Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bay of Fundy wish #3 - Tidal Energy

I thought I'd explain my Bay of Fundy New Year's wishes in more detail.

#3 - Fundy Tidal Energy

In the 1970s there was a move to create a barrage-style tidal energy project in the upper Bay of Fundy. Fortunately communities and ecologists rallied against such a plan (which would have involved creating a huge dam across the bay!). Such projects proceeded in other parts of the world to somewhat disasterous effects - such as the Severn Estuary barrage in Wales. Last summer I hosted a ecology researcher from the Severn Estuary who told me first hand about the "legacy" of that tidal project.

Some 20 to 30 years later, the technology of tidal generators appears to have greatly improved. Now there are several wave power projects on the go (these are used in the open ocean) and other in-stream concepts (this is what would be suitable for the Bay of Fundy). One type of in-stream tidal generator is something the modern wind mill, but it located under water and not visible from shore. Another type is something like a sub-surface kite that switches direction when the tide turns. Both appear to be much less disruptive to the environment, the fishing industry and recreational use of the Bay of Fundy.

Our mayor in Parrsboro has just returned from a tidal power discovery mission to London, Glasgow and the Orkneys with various government departments. He has a great personal interest in tidal energy as well as being the mayor of the town that is likely to be the staging ground for a pilot project, so I guess that gives me a front row seat for all the action!

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