Saturday, May 28, 2016

Tidal Power: Renewable Energy Panacea or Environmental Pariah (Videos)

In June 2016 turbines will be installed to capture the incredible power of Nova Scotia's Bay of Fundy. With the largest tides in the world, the Bay of Fundy also has the world's largest tidal energy potential. On its own the bay could supply all of Nova Scotia's energy needs.

Tidal power (tidal energy), is a form of hydro-power that converts the energy obtained from tides into useful forms of power, mainly electricity. This fledgling emissions free renewable technology has vast potential. It may even prove to be superior to traditional sources of renewable energy because it is far more predictable than wind or solar power.

Canada’s leading research centre for tidal energy is the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy. Also known as FORCE, this group is made up of public and private developers, regulators, scientists and academics. The subsea turbine demonstration facility in located at the Minas Passage, 10 kilometres west of Parrsboro.

The turbine that is scheduled to be installed in June will be located at the FORCE site. The two-megawatt turbine is one thousand tonnes and five storis high (16 metres). It will produce enough electricity to power 1000 homes. In 2017 a Black Rock tidal platform will be installed in the same location. This 2.5 megawatt array employs 40 smaller turbines, each about four metres in diameter. It is expected to generate around 2.5 megawatts of power.

As explained by Anne-Marie Belliveau, Director of Operations (FORCE) explained the reasons why the Bay of Fundy is ideal for tidal power:

"The Bay of Fundy is the best tidal power energy site in the world, both because of the amount of water and how fast it goes. 160 billion tons of water flow through the Bay of Fundy on every tidal cycle. That’s more than the combined flow of all the rivers in the world. If we are able to harness all of the power – just within the Minas Passage alone – it is enough to power all of the homes within Nova Scotia."

It should be noted that although there has been decades of research this is still a new technology. In February 2015 the world’s first grid-connected wave energy array switched on in Perth. Carnegie Wave Energy’s unique, Australian-made CETO technology moves with the ocean’s waves to drive tethered seabed pumps.

While many support emissions free renewable ocean power, others are concerned about its potential impact on fish. However as explained in this documentary, Michael Dadswell, a retired Acadia University biology professor who has studied the effects of these turbines on fish, and Darren Porter, a commercial fisherman in the Minas Basin, argue that tidal power could seriously damage the region’s valuable fisheries and its species at risk.

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