July 19, 2011 - Nova Scotia tidal energy, feed-in tariffs and projects

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hydrokinetic energy projects are cropping up in Canada just as they are in the U.S.  (For a review of hydrokinetic energy, check out last month's entries.) The Bay of Fundy is famous for its tides, among the largest in the world.  The Canadian province of Nova Scotia is home to a large portion of this resource.  Nova Scotia is also home to an existing tidal power plant: utility Nova Scotia Power's Annapolis Tidal Power Plant.  This tidal energy project, which came online in 1984, has a capacity of 20 megawatts and can generally produce between 80 and 100 megawatt-hours per day.

The tide drops out of a tidal marsh near the Back River on Arrowsic Island, Maine.

Now, Maine-based Ocean Renewable Power Co. has announced plans with Nova Scotia-based Fundy Tidal Inc. to install underwater hydrokinetic turbines to generate electricity from the Bay of Fundy's tides.  The proposal involves the installation of 15 to 20 150-kW turbines in the Petit Passage between Digby Neck and Long Island off western Nova Scotia (map) by 2012. 

The new venture, named ORPC Nova Scotia Ltd., plans to benefit from Nova Scotia's feed-in tariff.  That program, known as the community-based feed-in tariff or COMFIT, is projected to require utilities to pay qualified tidal projects 65.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for their output.  This rate, about six times higher than the typical rate for electricity, is a significant incentive for the development of the province's resources.  Additional support is available from the provincial government to assess hydrokinetic and small tidal projects like the Petit Passage project.

This project may be smaller than the 500 MW Passamaquoddy Power Project first proposed in 1919, but it could represent the first commercial deployment of underwater hydrokinetic turbines in the Bay of Fundy, and follows in Nova Scotia's traditions of harvesting the energy of its tides.

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