Cape Sharp Tidal's 2MW turbine is now generating power to the Nova Scotia power grid at FORCE. (Photo: FORCE)

At over 16 metres, the Bay of Fundy has the highest tidal range in the world. This unique site has also the potential to supply thousands of homes with clean and renewable energy, if the unequalled power of the tides could be harnessed

That’s the goal of the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE), which recently began providing power to businesses in Nova Scotia with Canada’s first grid-connected in-stream tidal turbine.

A two-megawatt turbine was deployed late last year at the FORCE test site near Parrsboro by Cape Sharp Tidal, a partnership between Emera Inc., the parent company of NovaScotia Power, and Open Hydro/DCNS, an Irish company with R&D operations in Nova Scotia.

This milestone marks a turning point for Canada’s renewable energy sector. It is the first time clean, renewable in-stream tidal power has successfully been generated from the Bay of Fundy, and the first time a

turbine has been grid-connected at FORCE. The demonstration open-centre turbine, designed and manufactured by OpenHydro, uses a fraction of the estimated 7,000 megawatt potential of the Minas Passage to power the equivalent of about 500 Nova Scotia homes with energy from tides. A second turbine, planned for deployment in 2017, will make Cape Sharp Tidal one of the largest generating arrays in the world.

The completed four-megawatt demonstration project will displace the need to burn about 2,000 tonnes of coal, and eliminate 6,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of taking 1,000 cars off the road each year.

FORCE has invested $30 million in onshore and offshore electrical infrastructure to allow demonstration turbines to connect to the power grid. Already more than 300 people are working on this project, and more than 250 Nova Scotia companies are involved in the tidal supply chain. Nova Scotia’s tidal energy industry has the potential to create up to 22,000 jobs and contribute as much 1.7 billion dollars to the economy.

FORCE is also developing environmental monitoring systems that integrate Oceans 2.0, a sophisticated data acquisition, archiving and visualization system developed by the University of Victoria’s Ocean Networks Canada for long-term scientific monitoring of Canada’s oceans, including its NEPTUNE and VENUS cabled seafloor observatories.

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