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What’s up with tidal energy?

An OREA project will fill tidal energy knowledge gaps and look at issues related to conversion technologies.


August 24, 2017
by PLANT Staff

Cape Sharp Tidal lowers a tidal turbine into the water at its Bay of Fundy test site near Parrsboro, NS. PHOTO: CAPE SHARP TIDAL

The federal government has invested $1 million for a project that aims to address knowledge gaps associated with tidal energy.

Offshore Energy Research Association (OERA) received funding from NRCan’s Energy Innovation Program that includes $125,000 each from Nova Scotia and OERA.

It’s putting out a call for research that deals with several issues related to tidal energy in Canada, focusing on the different conversion technologies, thus reducing uncertainty and investment risk while lowering the cost of tidal electricity.

Among the key concerns are monitoring environmental impacts (turbine effects on fish, marine mammals, seabirds, lobster, ambient noise); cost reduction and innovation (common challenges to foundations, moorings, materials and methods); and specialized marine operational capacity (innovations in vessel deployment, research, equipment recovery).

OERA, an independent, not-for-profit organization that funds and facilitates collaborative offshore energy and environmental R&D, wants to grow 50 megawatts of tidal capacity before expanding beyond 300 megawatts, while building national supply and service sectors. It intends to develop up to 200 additional sites that include northern and remote locations, suitable for in-stream tidal turbine technology.

In April, OREA announced a plan to bring industry and academic research together to develop new tidal energy technologies. Projects were selected for funding through a joint research competition sponsored with Nova Scotia Department of Energy and INNOVACORP, a crown corporation than manages venture capital. The combined research value is close to $500,000.

Monitoring marine life

Open Seas Instrumentation Inc. (OSI) of Musquodoboit Harbour was awarded $135,000 and JASCO Applied Sciences of Dartmouth got $65,000 to develop ways to monitor marine life near tidal turbines. Their findings will help researchers better understand the complex relationships between tidal energy development and the biological and physical ocean environment.

The project focuses on the redesign of a subsea platform for monitoring movement and behaviour of marine life close to the turbine. An adjustable structure integrates with the FORCE FAST-2 (Fundy Advanced Sensor Technology) platform to collect data from a range of viewing perspectives, including the face of the turbine.

The JASCO project, a partnership involving Dalhousie University and Luna Ocean Consulting Ltd., is developing a long-term monitoring program to measure how sound transmits in turbulent waters. How these conditions impact the ability to acoustically detect marine life will be examined. Researchers will also estimate how different marine organisms audibly detect turbines in turbulent waters.

The proposed work in the Bay of Fundy will involve the integration of different hydrophones and sensor technologies.

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