Marine life near tidal turbines being studied by two programs in Nova Scotia

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Two projects that will conduct monitoring studies of marine life near tidal turbines received $500,000 in funding from the Offshore Energy Research Association of Nova Scotia (OERA), the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and INNOVACORP, according to OERA. 

OERA said the research results will lead to greater understanding of the complex relationships between tidal energy development and the biological and physical ocean environment.

This research could have significant relevance to the marine energy industry given ongoing research in other areas. In March, reported a Nova Innovation Ltd.-led European tidal energy consortium announced it secured €4.4 million (US$4.6 million) in funding to develop the tidal turbine power take-off accelerator in a project that will run for 36 months.

Secured under the EU’s Horizon 2020 program, according to Nova Innovation, the consortium will design, build and test an innovative direct drive power take-off solution for tidal turbines.

Open Seas Instrumentation Inc. (OSI) of Musquodoboit Harbour awarded $135,000 and JASCO Applied Sciences of Dartmouth awarded $65,000 in funding, with the balance of research costs sourced from partner contributions. Each project introduces an innovative approach to monitoring marine life near a tidal turbine.

The Open Seas project focuses on the redesign of a subsea platform for monitoring movement and behavior of marine life close to the turbine. The redesign integrates an adjustable structure into the FORCE FAST-2 (Fundy Advanced Sensor Technology) platform so that sensors can collect data from a wide range of viewing perspectives including the face of the turbine. Project partners are the Nova Scotia Community College, Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy, Acadia University, DSA, and Ocean Moor Technical Services. Testing will take place in the Minas Passage with project completion set for June 2017.

The JASCO project will develop a long-term monitoring program to measure how sound propagates in turbulent waters to better understand how these conditions impact on the ability to acoustically detect marine life. Researchers will also estimate for different marine organisms, their ability to audibly detect turbines in turbulent waters.

The proposed work, scheduled for completion in August 2018, will be in the Bay of Fundy and involve integration of different hydrophones and sensor technologies. Project partners are Dalhousie University and Luna Ocean Consulting Ltd.

Nova Scotia is home to the first grid-connected tidal turbine in North America demonstrating that we have the expertise to harness clean, renewable energy from the highest tides in the world,” said Energy Minister Michel Samson. “However, these are still early days and we will continue to support the growth of this industry in a responsible way that protects the environment, marine life and other ocean industries.”

“The key to developing a sustainable and successful tidal energy industry in Nova Scotia is understanding how turbines interact with the environment in the Bay of Fundy,” says Stephen Dempsey, OERA executive director. “These research projects will not only help us enhance how we monitor the environment near an operating turbine, but is expected to bring technology innovation to the sector, that is developed here and exported abroad.”

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