(From left) Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) chair John Woods, Ralf Starzmann of Black Rock Tidal Power, Joe Hulm of Bluewater Energy Services, and Jeremy Poste of DCNS/Open Hydro were among the presenters at the Parrsboro Band Hall on May 20 for an information session on tidal power developments.
PARRSBORO – Multiple speakers and a plethora of information was presented to a group of citizens packed into the Parrsboro Band Hall Tuesday evening, but one key message was clear – tidal power is here, and the community better get ready.
John Woods, chair of the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) and vice-president of energy development at Minas Energy, said they would like to see the community take the lead in building support for the project and smoothing the road ahead as developments proceed through a critical stage.
“When we leave here tonight, I’m leaving with the expectation you’re going to do something,” said Woods. “You have some homework to do, because you’ll certainly see we’ve been doing ours.”
Although several information sessions have been presented in Parrsboro by FORCE in the past six years, Woods declared the May 20 event, sponsored by the Parrsboro and District Board of Trade, as the most significant yet, as it brought in not only FORCE representatives, but also officials from three of the four berth holders designing turbines to be tested in the Minas Channel.
Speakers were on hand from countries such as Scotland, England, France, the Netherlands and Germany, including David Langston of Siemens/Marine Current Turbines; Joe Hulm of Bluewater Energy Services; Ralf Starzmann of Black Rock Tidal Power; and Jeremy Poste of DCNS/Open Hydro, still blushing over the shellacking their first turbine took courtesy of the Fundy tides at the site in 2010.
Each representative spoke about their company’s unique turbine designs, ranging from floating turbines to multiple turbines connected to semi-submersible platforms.
Woods touted the Minas Channel site as the best in the world, not only for its well documented physical attributes, but because of the favourable price and legal climate available for investment in Nova Scotia.
He also reviewed some of the highlights of local development over the years, inlcuding installation of 10 km of transmission line, construction of an electrical substation and equipment in West Bay, underground cable vaults, the opening of the visitor centre, environmental approval for four the berth sites, and the successful laying of data cable last December.
But he reiterated that Parrsboro remains lacking as a service port, and urged the community to “get ahead of the curve” as plans for 2014 include installation of the transmission cables from the berth sites in the fall.
“Tonight exchange business cards, establish whatever committees you don’t have that should be there, go back and look at your planning strategies and land use bylaws,” said Woods. “Think about community benefits… become proactive.”
While Parrsboro is the closest port to the berth sites, Woods reminded that Hantsport and Digby are also on the radar as viable service ports. Rather than compete with each other, he urged the three municipalities to work together and share the workload.
The purpose of the presentation was to learn more about the challenges and opportunities presented by tidal power development, according to board of trade president David Beattie, who asked Woods and the other developers what holes the community can fill to be more accommodating in the future.
Suggestions from the presenters included an analysis on the local wharf, more available warehousing for equipment, a cradle to rest devices on, and a workshop facility for maintenance work.
“You’re missing all kinds of stuff,” said Woods, who offered that FORCE staff would work with the community on arranging hospitality functions. “The question is how can you slowly get there so everybody can afford it and not drive costs up.
“We need folks to establish committees, engage, and get ready,” he continued. “A big time this year will be September, when those cables have to go in. It would be great if we had all jurisdictions on the shores with pompoms.”
The International Conference On Ocean Energy will take place in Halifax on Nov. 4-6, and will feature a visit to Parrsboro from about 100 delegates.
Beattie thanked the entire group for taking part in the event.
“It’s been great, and it’s been a good start toward more information for us and getting us excited about the future of tidal energy here in Parrsboro,” he said.