Decision to push project forward comes after it appeared concerned fishermen might derail plan to install the giant underwater turbines
HALIFAX—Nova Scotia’s environment minister has cleared the way for the installation of two giant turbines in the Bay of Fundy for tidal power research, weeks after halting the project to gather more information about its environmental impact.
Margaret Miller announced her approval Monday of the monitoring plan drawn up by the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) and Cape Sharp Tidal Venture.
After consulting with concerned fishermen and her counterparts at the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Miller said she is satisfied enough with the plan to test the waters of tidal power technology.
“This is a demonstration project,” she told reporters on Monday. “There is no place like the Bay of Fundy, so putting these turbines in the water at this point we will be collecting data from now on.”
Cape Sharp’s five-storey-high turbines, destined for the Minas Passage, are expected to generate enough electricity to power 1,000 homes. The company, a partnership of OpenHydro and Emera, is one of several who plan to test different turbine technology in the Bay of Fundy.
Miller said the project’s environmental effects program will improve the understanding of the interaction between the turbines and marine life.
“Until devices are in the water and we have the opportunity to learn what these effects are … that’s largely unknown at this point in time,” said environmental assessment officer Steve Sandford.
The plan to install the mammoth turbines in the passage has faced strong opposition from the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association, which contends that instream tidal turbines can’t be made safe for the ecosystem.
Sanford says environmental monitoring programs will inform decisions regarding future FORCE projects and possibly commercial development.
He says if it is determined there is a negative effect on marine life, the response could be anything from improving mitigation plans to removal of the devices depending on the extent of the problem.