Generating electricity in the Bay of Fundy will be just the beginning of a bigger story for Nova Scotia, a top executive with one of the world’s biggest energy and transportation companies said Thursday in Halifax.

"We believe ocean energy is the next big thing," said Jean-Francois Ally, a project manager with Alstom Hydro of France.

Alstom is best known internationally for its high-speed train networks, operating all over the world. The company has offices and projects underway in about 100 countries and is a major player in the energy sector.

The hydroelectric division of the company has partnered with Clean Current Power Systems of Vancouver to deploy one of three test tidal turbines in the Bay of Fundy in 2012.

Ally said the Nova Scotia tidal energy undertaking will help the province develop critical skills related to the fabrication and assembly of tidal energy components, and also varying levels of expertise relating to their deployment.

"With ocean energy, we will be looking for new suppliers. We will be interested in developing long-term relationships."

He told participants at a tidal energy symposium hosted by the province that the Bay of Fundy is just the beginning of what is to be an evolution of a new global industry. Alstom has big plans for the renewable energy sector, especially ocean energy, he said.

"Once you get into our supply chain, you can provide for Alstom projects all over the world." There was a similar message to interested Nova Scotia businesses from Chris Bernardi, with Lockheed Martin Corp., which is partnering with Irving Shipbuilding on one of the test turbines to be deployed next year.

"The Bay of Fundy is a launch pad for global opportunities for all of us here," Bernardi said. John Woods, with Minas Basin Pulp and Power Co. Ltd., said the Hantsport business is operating with 15 cents per kilowatt as an objective in its tidal turbine partnership with Marine Current Turbines of Bristol, England.

"That has to be our target because anything (higher) isn’t going to work for anybody," Woods said.

David Ainsworth, with Marine Current Turbines, said the turbine to be deployed by the partners next year is designed and built with rapid and regular maintenance in mind.

"You cannot just design something on paper and expect to leave it for five years," Ainsworth said.

It is fair to expect that about 65 per cent of everything associated with the manufacturing and deployment of the company’s SeaGen turbine could eventually be handled in Nova Scotia, he said.

Putting the magnitude of the test project in perspective, he noted a single SeaGen turbine has about 7,750 components that come from 106 different suppliers.

By BILL POWER
The Halifax Chronicle Herald
Fri, Jul 8, 2011