Tuesday 17 July 2018

Canadian conservationists challenge tidal project by Irish firm OpenHydro

An example of an OpenHydro tidal turbine
An example of an OpenHydro tidal turbine

Paul O'Donoghue

A conservation group is trying to delay the production of one of the world's first commercially viable tidal energy turbines, which is being built by Irish firm OpenHydro.

The Striped Bass Association is asking provincial authorities in Nova Scotia, Canada, to stop the planned placement of the two 2 megawatt turbines in the Minas Passage, claiming that they are a threat to the striped bass population.

Cape Sharp Tidal, a partnership between OpenHydro and Emera, is expected to deploy the first of its two 16-metre demonstration turbines in one of Canada's stormiest and most remote regions by the end of this year. It has already received the support of local officials, who are backing the project to the tune of CAD$8m (€5.5m).

The site has the potential to supply thousands of homes with clean power by harnessing tidal energy. OpenHydro plans to up power generation capacity in the area to 12MW in 2017 and 50MW in 2019. The Striped Bass Association claims the turbines will disturb and kill local fish, as it says that there is no evidence they would avoid turbines in the fast-moving, murky water of the Minas Passage.

It says that no turbines should be installed until more information is known about the possible effects of the turbines on factors such as commercial bycatch mortality and population. It says that it is calling on industry and local government to support it in its actions.

OpenHydro had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

While Openhydro is based in Ireland and specialises in tidal energy, it has yet to build a project here. French naval firm DCNS took a 60pc stake in Openhydro in a 2011 deal that valued the company at €170m.

The Irish firm lost one of its pilot projects in the US earlier this year after Washington-based Snohomish Public Utility District abandoned plans for a hydrokinetic power-generating facility.

Irish Independent

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