A Maine tidal power company is partnering with a Canadian project developer to break into a much larger market by installing underwater turbines off Nova Scotia.

Portland-based Ocean Renewable Power and Fundy Tidal of Nova Scotia plan to install underwater turbines in the Petit Passage off western Nova Scotia in the fall of 2012.

The partnership gets Ocean Renewable into a lucrative market, one that’s subsidized by Nova Scotia’s government as it seeks to make the province a world leader in tidal power.

John Ferland, Ocean Renewable’s vice-president, said the potential for development in Canadian waters "is 10 times larger" than what’s in Maine.

The goal in the Petit Passage is to install about 15 to 20 of Ocean Renewable’s tidal power units.

Dana Morin, president of Fundy Tidal, said the turbines will create up to two megawatts of energy for Digby County.

Ocean Renewable has tested its system in the waters of Eastport and Lubec, and is also planning to install a similar-sized system off eastern Maine.

That project has been pushed back from this fall until 2012 because of delays in regulatory approvals and a desire to avoid installing turbines in the winter.

More than 160 billion tonnes of water flow in and out of the Bay of Fundy each day and it’s estimated that up to 2,500 megawatts of energy could be safely tapped, officials say. That’s roughly the same amount of electricity as three nuclear power plants the size of Maine Yankee, when it was in operation.

"With the establishment of ORPC Nova Scotia Ltd., Eastport and Lubec are now located in the epicentre of one of the largest tidal energy markets in the world," said Ocean Renewable CEO Chris Sauer.

Ocean Renewable’s tidal power units use rotating foils that lend the appearance of a manual reel mower. Each of the 150-kilowatt units will power up to 60 homes, and they can be combined to increase output.

The Canadian project is getting assistance from the government of Nova Scotia, which has established a special rate of 65.2 cents per kilowatt hour for tidal power to be paid by utilities to promote community-based tidal energy projects. The so-called feed-in tariff is about six times higher than the typical rate for electricity.

Nova Scotia is also making $750,000 available to support the assessment and evaluation of underwater sites for small tidal projects like the one announced by Ocean Renewable and Fundy Tidal.

Story by: The Associated Press: Dateline Portland, Maine, USA
Story source: The Halifax Chronicle Herald
Tue, Jul 19, 2011