Sustainable Marine ready to launch tidal energy onto Nova Scotia’s grid
Just days after the UN IPCC issued its call for action on the climate emergency, saying ‘it’s now or never”, Sustainable Marine is poised to push the button and feed zero emission electricity generated from the immense tidal flows in the Bay of Fundy into the Nova Scotia grid.
The company has delivered Canada’s first ‘grid-compliant’ floating tidal energy system, ushering in a fresh dawn for the nation’s marine renewable energy ambitions.
The landmark achievement follows several months of intense activity in the Bay of Fundy by Sustainable Marine’s Canadian, British and German team, supported by an international network of supply chain partners.
After laying a 1km underwater cable in late January, the firm subsequently connected its PLAT-I 6.4 tidal energy system to a purpose-built substation, located on the shores of Grand Passage. Final inspections were conducted by Canada’s QPS Evaluation Services, who issued the SPE 1000 Field Approval – which enables the tidal platform to supply power to the grid under a demonstration permit issued by the Province of Nova Scotia. Energization is expected in the coming weeks.
“Harnessing the huge potential of in-stream tidal energy in the Bay of Fundy has long been considered a moonshot, but we’re now firmly on the launchpad and ready for lift-off,” said Sustainable Marine CEO Jason Hayman. “These waters are a huge, untapped, completely renewable and predictable source of energy, which is driven by the moon as it orbits our planet. The unique geometry of the Bay of Fundy turns this gravitational force into vast tidal streams that flow at speeds of up to 10 knots. It’s taken many years of testing, development and demonstration to refine the technology and understand how best to capture and convert tidal energy. But the moment has now arrived. Sustainable Marine’s next-gen platform is grid-connected and set to energize. We are grateful to all partners who have contributed to this immense international effort, and to the many stakeholders across Nova Scotia who are supporting our mission to provide a greener, cleaner and healthier future for island and coastal communities.”
As Sustainable Marine bids to become the first floating tidal energy developer to power homes, businesses and industry across the east Atlantic seaboard, Nova Scotia has doubled-down on its net-zero commitments, accelerating the phase-out of coal-fired electricity by ten years, to 2030.
PLAT-I 6.4 will eventually be re-located to the FORCE demonstration site in the Minas Passage and form part of the world’s first floating tidal energy array, in the ‘Pempa’q Project’.
The current deployment in Grand Passage will also be used to test a multi-sensor Environmental Monitoring System (EMS) located on board PLAT-I 6.4, linking underwater cameras, hydrophones, echosounders and acoustic fish tag receivers. The system provides live-streamed data to record marine life in the vicinity of the platform. The aim is to demonstrate that a monitoring system can work in these highly energetic environments when visibility is reduced, such as during hours of darkness, or in turbid waters.
Sustainable Marine is hoping that the EMS will help prove that its pioneering PLAT-I 6.4 system offers an ultra-low environmental impact energy generation solution. Its modular design and retractable turbines, which rise above water level, allow for easy on-site access, and maintenance, and can be easily upgraded as this rapidly growing sector develops. Meanwhile, the streamlined structure is securely moored in the channel with plenty of space around it to facilitate the unrestricted passage of marine life and vessels.
Sustainable Marine initially developed and tested the technology in Scotland, and is continuing to invest in local capacity building and knowledge transfer. Leading industry experts like Orkney’s Green Marine have supported the platform installation, cable lay, and offshore connection operations using Sustainable Marine’s own Tidal Pioneer – the most advanced small construction vessel operating in Atlantic Canada.
The Tidal Pioneer’s advanced capabilities, including dynamic positioning and a 4-point mooring system significantly mitigates the challenges working in strong tidal streams, allowing the vessel to remain moored on site throughout the tidal cycle, while it performs a wide range of tasks including mooring and cable installation and connections using its two cranes and extensive suite of deck hardware.
“Using our vast experience of managing and using multi-cats on similar projects in the UK, we were able to provide a range of support services from project planning to risk assessments and method statements,” said Green Marine Managing Director Jason Schofield. “We also provided an Offshore installation Manager (OIM) to supervise the operations and deliver training for the Tidal Pioneer’s new Canadian crew to ensure safe and efficient future operations in challenging and dynamic marine environments. We look forward to seeing Sustainable Marine’s projects develop further in Canadian waters and will continue to provide support to our long-standing clients.”
The operations were also supported by a number of local service providers including Huntley’s Sub-Aqua Construction, Gr8Dane Marine Services, Black & McDonald, and Strum Engineering.