HomeRenewable energy ›Canadian Digby County to Produce Electricity Through Tidal Turbines

Canadian Digby County to Produce Electricity Through Tidal Turbines

Solar and wind are not going to be enough on their own to meet our energy needs because the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow, but you know the tide changes every six hours and that’s one of the big benefits of tidal for the energy system, says Nova Innovation CEO Simon Forrest.

December 12, 2019. By Ashish Wagh

Nova Innovation, a Scotland based company which designs, builds and operates tidal turbines that generate electricity from the natural ebb and flow of the tide, has selected Digby County as the site of its latest project, one that will begin to harness the tides of the Bay of Fundy near Tiverton.

“We’ve been working in Nova Scotia for a couple of years and it is blessed with a tremendous tidal resource. As we looked around at all the areas, the Petit Passage quickly came to our attention and we have been working with the community there to bring it all together,” Simon Forrest, chief executive officer of Scotland's Nova Innovation, said on Wednesday.

Nova Innovation CAN Ltd. has received a permit from the province to develop a 1.5-megawatt tidal array in Petit Passage. Forrest said the project will be done in several phases, beginning with a single turbine in 2020. Three phases of 0.5 megawatts will follow as part of a plan to have 15 new tidal stream turbines installed by 2023 on the seabed to generate clean electricity from the natural ebb and flow of the tide. The project is expected to generate enough electricity to power 600 homes.

Nova Innovation installed the world’s first offshore tidal array in 2016 with three turbines near the Shetland Islands off Scotland. Those turbines have been generating clean electricity and exporting power to the grid since then.

Last year, the company worked with international giant Tesla to add energy storage to its tidal technology, creating the world’s first grid-connected tidal power station with the ability to deliver baseload (constant, steady-state) power and deliver energy on demand to meet customer needs.

Forrest said its work in tidal energy gives him confidence that Nova Innovation will succeed where other projects further up the Bay of Fundy in the Minas Passage off Parrsboro have encountered difficulties. “Our approach is very different from almost everybody else in the industry,” Forrest said.

“Our turbines are smaller and we have the philosophy start small, but think big. At Petit Passage, we’ll be putting one device in and doing it in a phases approach, putting one in and seeing how it goes and then moving on from there. It will be done in a very careful and controlled manner.”

This project is its biggest — five times the size of its project in Shetland — and Forrest said it will help show how Nova Scotia is becoming a hub for the rest of the world to emulate. “There’s massive global opportunity, not just Nova Scotia and Canada, but you have the U.K., France, Indonesia, Chile, Japan and others. There are many markets for it,” he said.

“If you go back 30 years no one was talking about wind energy and it’s mainstream now. Twenty years ago, no one ever thought solar power would get to the cost point that you now see solar farms in Scotland or in Nova Scotia. Ten years ago, offshore wind was in its infancy and now tidal energy is the next big thing. Plus it’s completely predictable.

“Solar and wind are not going to be enough on their own to meet our energy needs because the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow, but you know the tide changes every six hours and that’s one of the big benefits of tidal for the energy system.”

While projects in the Minas Basin were opposed by those who fish for a living, Forrest said the size of Nova Innovation’s turbines are such they should not affect the fishery. He said the Shetland Island turbines have been operating for three years without any issues.

The province is pledging to pay Nova Innovation 50 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity from the 15 turbines, recognizing the costs of developing a ground-breaking new energy technology. Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette said this long-term approach will enable Canada to become the global hub of the sector, establish a highly skilled supply chain, help regenerate coastal communities and capitalise on the high-quality jobs being created by the industry.

“Nova Scotia’s leadership in the development of clean, renewable tidal energy continues to attract new businesses and new investment to our shores,” the minister said adding that these projects are growing our green economy, creating jobs in rural areas of the province and they have tremendous potential to help in our fight against climate change. The five-year permit is renewable if the company meets performance standards, environmental requirements and community engagement conditions.

Digby County Warden Jimmy MacAlpine said his municipality has long supported the development of tidal energy. “We already have one turbine in the water from another company and there’s lots of interest in the passages,” MacAlpine said. “As a municipality, we’ve been a proponent of tidal power for quite a few years. We think this is good and with being able to produce tidal energy, it’s great for the local area. The key thing is going to be energy storage and how they bring it ashore and use it. In this case, I think it’s going to be used locally,” he added.

Earlier this year, Sustainable Marine Energy’s PLAT-I tidal energy platform began generating power from the tidal currents of Grand Passage near Freeport.MacAlpine said the municipality looks at tidal energy as a resource that can be used throughout Atlantic Canada as companies come into the region to put turbines in to test the waters.

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