An innovative floating tidal power array being developed by Scotland’s Sustainable Marine for a potentially market-changing demonstration project off Canada is in tow for installation in the Bay of Fundy.
The distinctive cross-shaped, multi-turbine design is set for trials at Nova Scotia’s Force R&D centre after lead-off testing in a stretch of water called the Grand Passage, where currents speed as fast as 2.5 metres per second, in the next step of the 9MW Pempa’q project.
Built out to full-scale Pempa’q – the word used by the Mi’kmaq First Nation, the area’s indigenous people, for ‘rise of the tide’ – would save 17,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year and power some 3,000 homes in the province of Nova Scotia.
“We are harnessing the power of our tides to power our homes, our businesses and our communities,” said Seamus O’Regan Jr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, of the launch. “This is how we build our clean energy future.”
Jason Hayman, CEO of Sustainable Marine, said: “This tidal technology is the result of a tremendous international effort combining world-class scientific and engineering expertise from our German, Scottish and Canadian teams, and is the culmination of a decade of research and development.”
The 420kW PLAT-I 6.40 floating tidal energy platform, which was built by local fabrication yard AF Theriault & Son, is a ‘trimaran’ design that pivots on a turret connected to mooring lines that allow the structure to adjust to the the flow of the tides, similar to a weathervane in the wind.
The Force unit, which was tailor-designed for the project, flies six instream turbines with a combined rating of 420kW, engineered to swing up from the water on to the floating platform for inspection and maintenance.
The Pempa’q project, which has received $28.5m in funding from the Canadian government, is something of a second coming for the tidal energy industry in the country, which after the high-profile failure in 2010 of a prototype developed by Ireland’s OpenHydro, has struggled to commecialise technologies for the sector despite having one of the richest tidal power resources in the world.
“The construction and launch of Sustainable Marine’s floating in-stream tidal technology is a significant milestone for Canada’s marine renewable energy sector,” said Elisa Obermann, executive director of industry advocacy body Marine Renewables Canada.
Sustainable Marine, which launched its innovative floating design in 2011 as a technology-agnostic ‘platform’ that could be towed to site outfitted with horizontal-axis turbines and hook-up to a pre-installed mooring system, has put the technology through tis paces via earlier testing programmes off Scotland and Canada, with the PLAT-I 6.40 producing 50% more power than its predecessor, the PLAT-I 4.63, which has been in trials since 2017.
The Bay of Fundy's tidal range lays claim to being the most extreme in the world, with 115 billion tonnes of water surging in and an out of the bay twice a day creating a resource from which the province has calculated up to 7GW of power could be extracted.