PARRSBORO, NS – If ocean conditions are perfect, 300 tons of tidal turbine will be lowered onto the floor of the Minas Basin near Parrsboro on Sunday.
“There are certain tidal conditions we’re looking for to be able to deploy the turbine,” said Stacey Pineau, Senior Advisor of Communications and Community Relations with Cape Sharp Tidal.
The 16-metres in diameter turbine will take between 70 and 90 minutes to lower to the floor of the Bay of Fundy.
“They need to do it at the right time in the tidal cycle. The marine operations team is looking for very precise conditions,” she added.
Cape Sharp Tidal is a joint venture between Halifax-based Emera Inc. and OpenHydro, a tidal power technology company headquartered in Ireland.
Between 35 and 40 turbine-related workers are currently living in Parrsboro during the deployment operation.
“Those are different employees and subcontractors, each of who would have their own specialization,” said Pineau.
The turbine was hauled on a custom-built barge from Saint John Harbour on Wednesday and arrived at the deployment site on Thursday.
“It is a complex marine operation they’re carrying out over the next few days, so we’ve been preparing since the turbine and vessels involved in this operation arrived in the Minas Passage,” said Pineau. “We have to be ready to go when conditions are right.”
The 2-megawatt turbine, at full capacity, generates enough power to supply the electrical needs of 500 homes for one year, but Pineau makes it clear there are many tests the turbine needs to pass before it begins to work at full capacity, if it ever does.
“This is a demonstration project, so our main focus is research and development and taking what we learn to better understand the potential for in-stream tidal energy and see if it can be produced sustainably.”
Once the turbine reaches the ocean floor, it will be connected to a sub-sea cable that runs through the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE), which is also located near Parrsboro.
“The next thing to happen after deployment is to connect the sub-sea cable to the turbine’s cable so we can transmit the electricity that the turbine generates to the power grid,” said Pineau. “The first power produced by the turbine goes to power the FORCE centre itself, and its needs, and then the remaining power will be transmitted to the grid.”
This is the second turbine tested by Cape Sharp Tidal near Parrsboro. The first was deployed in Nov. 2016, and recovered in June 2016.
“This turbine is the same design as the turbine that was previously deployed and recovered,” said Pineau. “This is the first time this turbine has been deployed and we did make upgrades to it based on everything we learned from that initial deployment.”
Those upgrades focused on creating better mechanical and environmental efficiencies.
“The upgrades that we made focused on improving operation efficiency in addition to the environmental monitoring equipment upgrades, which focus on making sure the environmental monitoring devices are gathering as much data as possible and as efficiently as possible.”
The monitors, including all the environmental monitors, provide real-time updates to onshore computers.
“Environmental monitoring is something we’re very focused on, so we do have a very detailed environmental effects monitoring program,” said Pineau.
Environmental monitoring devices on the turbine, and on the ocean floor near the turbine, include a Gemini sonar device, and icListen Smart Hydrophones, which are produced in Great Village, Nova Scotia.
“We conduct environmental monitoring related to the turbine in the near field, in the area in close proximity to the turbine,” said Pineau. “FORCE conducts additional environmental monitoring. They take a broader look at the area at further distances from our turbines.”
Cape Sharp Tidal Parrsboro office is located at 237 Main Street.