N.S. gov’t announces fourth test tidal power in Bay of Fundy

Lockheed Martin Canada, Irving Shipbuilding to build and deploy massive one-megawatt turbine.

Comments Off on N.S. gov’t announces fourth test tidal power in Bay of Fundy February 11, 2011
by Canadian Press

Halifax – A fourth consortium announced it had won approval to test one of the world’s most powerful tidal turbines in the Bay of Fundy. Tim Cornelius, the CEO of Atlantis Resources Corp., told a news conference that the London-based project development company will work with at the province’s Minas Passage test site.

“We have elected to partner with what we think to be the best possible consortium members to not just … develop Atlantis technology, but to try and start building an industry in Nova Scotia predicated around tidal power,” Cornelius said.

The group represents the fourth consortium to commit to testing tidal turbines in the bay. The three others are: Alstrom Hydro of France, in partnership with Vancouver’s Clean Current Power Systems; Nova Scotia Power, in partnership with Open Hydro of Ireland; and Minas Basin Pulp and Power, working with U.K.-based Marine Current Turbines.

Cornelius said his group has committed to including 50 per cent local content in the latest project, though he said it was too early to disclose how much money would be raised for the venture.

Lockheed Martin, which branched out from the aerospace industry two years ago, already has 130 people working in Nova Scotia. As for Irving Shipbuilding, it has 1,200 employed in the province.

Deployment of the Atlantis AK-1000 Mark II turbine is slated for the summer of 2012, a process the company says will be “environmentally benign.” The turbine is 22 metres tall and has a twin set of 18-metre blades that produce enough electricity to supply 1,000 homes.

So far, only one test turbine has been lowered into the bay, which is famous for having the highest tides in the world. Twice a day, more than 160 billion tonnes of water flow in and out of the bay.

Last month, engineers suggested the strength of the currents may have been too much for the experimental machine, which quit working shortly after it was deployed in November 2009.

All 12 blades from the unit were missing when the 400-tonne turbine was lifted from the floor of the bay, about a kilometre off Parrsboro, N.S.

Officials from Nova Scotia Power said it appears the one-megawatt turbine was overloaded when it came apart.

The damaged turbine, which is 10 metres in diameter, looks like a giant jet engine standing on a tripod base. By contrast, the proposed Atlantis turbine looks more like two, giant airplane propellers facing away from each other.

An Atlantis AK-1000 turbine deployed last August off the Orkney Islands of Scotland was damaged before it started generating power. It was pulled from the water to have its blades replaced, but the company expects to put it back when the weather improves in the months ahead.

The company also has a tidal turbine project underway in India. In Australia, its shallow-water turbines have been connected to the power grid since 2008.

The tidal energy experiments in Nova Scotia are part of the provincial government’s aggressive bid to generate 40 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

This summer, subsea transmission cables will be installed to connect test turbines to the province’s electrical grid.

© 2011 The Canadian Press