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In Pursuit of a Greener Megawatt

Posted on: June 9, 2016

Being a trusted partner in communities where we live and work is crucially important to us. Responsible renewable resource development starts with recognizing and respecting the need to share the mighty Bay of Fundy to coastal fishing, municipal and Mi’kmaq communities.

Since 2007, consultations and engagement about in-stream tidal development have been ongoing. In that time, there have been more than a hundred opportunities for engagement. We’ve met in community fire halls, on fishing wharves, and around kitchen tables to listen and share directly with those who have a stake in our plans, and with whom we have common goals to safeguard the Bay of Fundy. We will continue to maintain and strengthen those relationships as we look ahead to turbine deployment this summer.

Still, there are associations who feel they have not had the opportunity to be fully heard. And so, we decided last week to take a pause ahead of our first turbine deployment, to sit down with those groups and to hear what they have to say – to listen and learn. We’re using this time to outreach again to the community directly to hear from them. Our experience is that we always learn from such engagements, and we fully expect this time will be no different.

The environmental monitoring plans for the FORCE site have been a key topic of discussion with stakeholders all around the province. We want you to hear directly from us about our plans during this early demonstration-phase of the project.

  • Investing in research and conservation: More than $15 million has been invested in research, studies, monitoring equipment and analysis at the FORCE site. Our investment in the best technology and analysis available will advance global understanding of how we can safely and responsibly harness tidal energy. Our findings will build on the robust body of scientific baseline data that already exists for the FORCE site. Additionally, our work could attract future funding to strengthen conservation efforts for species that face threats from habitat loss or degradation, climate change, agricultural contaminants, boat strikes, predators and other natural and human threats.

    Sonar photo credit: Acadia University
    Sonar photo credit: Acadia University
  • Working with expert partners on the most advanced research and implementing best industry practices: To ensure we’re moving ahead in a responsible way, our environmental monitoring program is the result of extensive stakeholder consultation, advice and input from local and global experts, including the fishing community. The program has undergone scrutiny and review by federal departments under the Fisheries Act, the Species at Risk Act and the Navigation Protection Act. And as our program is complementary to FORCE’s program, it’s also been reviewed by an independent-by-design advisory committee that includes fishers, First Nations and science experts .
  • Measuring what is meaningful: One of the objectives of our monitoring program is to address the expected outcomes of the FORCE environmental assessment. FORCE must meet those requirements, but the scope of our program and accountability is precise: to study fish, mammals and turbine acoustics in the near-field of our turbines (100 metres.) Our program is absolutely appropriate for a demonstration-scale phase of just two turbines within the Minas Passage, which is the scale equivalent of two tennis balls on the surface area of a tennis court. The Minas Passage is 5.5 kilometres wide—and as such, our turbines are not a threat to other Bay of Fundy industries, including the commercial fishery.
  • Expected outcomes: The best evidence that we have on in-stream tidal is from other deployments around the world, where there has been no recorded incidence of fish, mammal or seabird collision. This includes a ten-year deployment at EMEC in Scotland where monitoring is conducted by an independent scientific agency. In fact, all indications are that fish are in close proximity to the turbines when the water is moving slowly (slack tide.) Scientific models support these results. You can see a short video of this evidence here . There is no hydrodynamic ‘pull’ from the turbine or meaningful pressure change around the turbine, as has been observed in barrage installations that employ a completely different turbine technology or that would affect the important lobster larvae.

 

Tidal Energy for the Future

Until now, much of the research on in-stream tidal turbines has been limited to computer labs, models and predictions. Simply put – we need turbines in the water to study these devices, and inform the path forward. Our aspirations for future development are incremental, based on the results of meaningful, scientific exploration, and will happen in an environmentally responsible way. These are early days, and these are the first steps on the path to a cleaner future for all.

To harness the tides, we must share the Bay of Fundy with other existing users. We have a shared interest and responsibility to safeguard the ecosystem for the benefit and enjoyment of all. We believe the Cape Sharp Tidal project underscores our shared interest to generate increased economic activity in our communities and region. And we will continue working with partners to do it right and to support one another.

Thank you for your ongoing interest and support of the Cape Sharp Tidal project.

 

More Resources:

As always, if you have questions about anything you’ve read here or elsewhere, or would like to comment, our Community Relations Manager can be reached at sarah.dawson @ capesharptidal.com .

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