Electricity-generating tidal turbines are set to start work harnessing the strong current of Canada’s Bay of Fundy.
Despite being talked of for decades as an alternative power source, tidal power has been slow to take off. Most of the small facilities currently in operation uses a “barrage” system, where tidal water flows into a reservoir and powers hydro turbines as it flows back to the sea.
But that has a big environmental impact and in the Bay of Fundy, where tides can rise and fall by up to 16 metres, two 300-tonne turbines will take advantage of the fast current flow in Minas Basin, near the town of Parrsboro, Nova Scotia.
The Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) has already placed submarine cables to connect to the power grid.
The two turbines, to be operated by Irish company OpenHydro, will generate about 4 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 1,000 homes. By 2019, the company hopes to have several more in the bay
Supporters say that tidal power has one big advantage over solar and wind – it is predictable and reliable.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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