Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Setback for Tidal Energy Project in Nova Scotia

So calm is the solar farm as its grid of thousands of panels bask gloriously in the sun. Quiet. Serene. You can almost smell the Tropicana suntan lotion. Wind turbines have it a little harder with unpredictable gusts and changing wind direction putting immense stress on blades, gears and other compenents. But of all these renewable sources, those that must rest in the ocean have it the toughest. Storms. Pounding waves. Salt. And who knows what else?

It’s why it comes as no surprise when attempts to capture the energy of our oceans don’t go as planned. The latest news comes out of Nova Scotia, where the province’s power company and partner OpenHydro Tidal Technology are trying to capture tidal energy in the Bay of Fundy. OpenHydro recently placed a 400-tonne, six-storey turbine in the Bay of Fundy, home of some of the most awesome and powerful tides in the world. Earlier this month, the two companies discovered that the harsh ocean environment had broken two of the turbine’s blades. The massive 1-megawatt machine is now scheduled to be removed sometime this fall. We’ve seen this story before with demonstration projects from Verdant, Pelamis Wave, Finavera and others. It’s not the technology doesn’t work, it’s that we haven’t been able to prove the technology can last for 20 or more years in service. The ocean is unforgiveable, as builders of offshore oil platforms and offshore wind projects known. That said, this is exactly why these demonstrations and pilot projects are so important. Unless we can test the many news wave, tidal and riverbed designs entering the market, we’ll never learn how to improve their designs. Computer modelling and simulations can’t replace real-world testing.

Alternative Energy Blog

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