A New Way to Test Out the Tides

Nova Scotia’s tidal permits are bringing innovative technologies to the Bay of Fundy

Tidal energy developers in Nova Scotia are working to harness the power of the Bay of Fundy, which has the world’s highest tides. (Photo: Len Wagg/Communications Nova Scotia)

As the sun rises over Scots Bay, a small black barge bobs along off in the distance. It’s not a fishing vessel or scientific monitoring station. It’s something called a ‘Kinetic Keel’ and Big Moon Power thinks it just might be the way to harness tidal energy.

“It’s a very simple concept but it works very well,” said Big Moon Power founder Lynn Blodgett.

The keel is connected by a long, super strong rope to a land-based drum. As the keel moves out and back with the tides, the rope extends and retracts, turning the drum and generating power.

Big Moon’s concept is being tested in the Bay of Fundy under Nova Scotia’s Marine Renewable-energy Permit Program. Since opening to applications in April 2018, two projects have been approved, and more could be on the way soon.

Big Moon Power is testing tidal energy technology that it calls a ‘Kinetic Keel.’ (Photo: Big Moon Power)

The program gives companies another way to test and prove the technology they are developing.

“Developing marine renewable energy here is a key pillar of our clean energy plan,” said Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette. “These projects drive innovation, competition and ultimately lower renewable energy prices while solidifying Nova Scotia’s position as a leader in the development of the tidal industry.”

Big Moon has approval to test a 100-kilowatt prototype, which is not connected to the electricity system, for up to 14 months.

A second permit allows the company to increase the size of its project in phases, up to a maximum total of five megawatts. This approval is for five years and renewable if the company meets performance standards, environmental requirements, and community engagement conditions.

Black Rock Tidal Power is also using an unconnected permit to test its 280-kilowatt floating platform, called the PLAT-I, between Long Island and Brier Island near Digby for up to six months.

Black Rock Tidal will conduct trials using its floating platform, called the PLAT-1. (Photo: Black Rock Tidal)

Both companies, and any future successful applicants, can apply to connect their devices to the electrical grid and negotiate a power purchase agreement to sell the energy they generate.

Up to 10 megawatts of power can be authorized under the program, and operators are still required to have all applicable permits and environmental approvals.

Besides the permit program, tidal projects are also being developed at the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE) site further up the Bay of Fundy. Developers hold five berths at FORCE, located in the Minas Passage.

Earlier this fall, the industry in Nova Scotia received a boost when the federal government announced $29.8 million in funding for Halagonia Tidal Energy Ltd., a FORCE berth holder. Halagonia is planning a nine-megawatt array that will include both floating and submerged turbines.

For more information on tidal permits, visit: https://energy.novascotia.ca/renewables/marine-renewable-energy/permits