Nova Scotia is primed to become a global leader in tidal power, Energy Minister Barry Barnet said Thursday.

“I am hopeful that (the Bay of ) Fundy will become the world’s ultimate testing ground for tidal energy devices,” he said inside the Cherubini Metal Works plant on Pleasant Street. “I want people to say: ‘it’s built to the Fundy standard.’”

Barnet made that claim at a press conference announcing that the Dartmouth firm has won a $1.7 million contract to build a subsea base for a turbine that will whip up tidal waves from the bottom of the bay. The turbine is the first of its kind to be installed in Canadian waters by Dublin-based company OpenHydro and, according to the province, will be the height of a two-storey home and could generate enough electricity for 800 homes when it’s secured to the ocean floor this fall.

 

“We’re going to deploy this unit and learn from it,” said Nick Murphy of OpenHydro.

Murphy called the Bay of Fundy “a uniquely powerful resource,” since it’s one of the strongest tidal sites in the world. It will also be “one of the toughest sites,” he said, with challenges such as working with ice and murky waters. “I think if it will work here it will work pretty much anywhere.”

Cherubini and OpenHydro aren’t the only companies working on test turbines, as Minas Basin Pulp and Power has partnered with Marine Current Turbines in the United Kingdom and Canadian company Clean Current Turbines is also putting together a project. The province says all three in-stream turbines, which differ from traditional turbines, must undergo environmental assessments before they can be placed in the proposed Minas Passage site.

Nova Scotia Power president Rob Bennett said trying out different prototypes for the renewable energy resource “is really about understanding how the machines will work, but also understanding what impact they will have on the environment.”

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