Big Green Tidal Power Companies Go Bankrupt
Written by Dr Klaus L E Kaiser
In 2016, with considerable fanfare, the Cape Sharp Tidal (CST) company launched its “long-awaited” underwater test turbine in the Bay of Fundy. CST, co-owned by Nova Scotia’s Emera Inc. (EI), and the Irish co. OpenHydro Ltd. (OH), a subsidiary of the French co. Naval Energies, (NE), have hit the end of the road. Both CST and OH have now filed for bankruptcy.
“Undersea turbines aim to harness the legendary tidal power off Nova Scotia,” Bay of Fundy – at least that was the idea …; photo credit: The Canadian Press, Andrew Vaughan.
According to a CBC report (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/emera-pulls-out-from-troubled-cape-sharp-tidal-project-1.4783328), Emera recently pulled out of the CST venture after…
“The surprise application by Naval Energies to Ireland’s High Court on July 26 requesting the liquidation of OpenHydro and Naval Energies’ subsequent statement that it will no longer support or invest in tidal turbines left Emera with no practical choice but to withdraw from Cape Sharp Tidal” (https://www.thestar.com/business/2018/08/14/emera-ends-involvement-in-troubled-bay-of-fundy-tidal-turbine-project.html ).
As recently as Sept. 18, 2018, “An Irish technical team brought into work on the Cape Sharp Tidal turbine in the Bay of Fundy is trying to determine why the machine’s rotor is not turning.” (https://www.thestar.com/halifax/2018/09/18/team-investigating-why-rotor-not-turning-on-cape-sharp-tidal-turbine.html ).
The Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_of_Fundy ) has one of the world’s largest tidal ranges, up to approximately 50 ft. (17 m) with some small sub-bays having even higher diurnal ranges. As you can imagine, the water mass regularly swapping in and out of the Bay of Fundy is in the order of 100 billion cubic meters, or about half a trillion gallons.
With the changing tides, fish come into and move out of the Bay as well, not to mention the many visitors who, at low tide, are awestruck by walking on ground that a few hours later will again be several house-story’s deep under water.
Hopewell Rocks, Bay of Fundy, at low tide; photo: https://www.bayoffundy.com
Ocean Power Generation Ideas
Tidal power generation ideas have come and gone. A few actually work, like the Annapolis Royal in Canada and France’s Saint-Servan water embayment systems and power plants. Most of the other ocean tidal and wave power ideas have failed. Apart from the fact that none of these forces are constant or steady, between tidal variations (particularly during storms) and the harsh corrosive environment of the ocean, and also the detrimental effects by barnacles and other marine growth, they rarely deliver even a fraction of the anticipated energy generation. For example, see the fates of the Pelamis system (https://canadafreepress.com/article/pelamis-wave-power-another-alternative-energy-bust ) and the osmosis idea (https://canadafreepress.com/article/osmosis-an-alternative-energy-idea-gone-bust ). They all suffer from rapid wear and tear, material fatigue, corrosion, and other unforeseen technical problems.
The CST tried to use the underwater currents associated with the incoming and outgoing tides to generate electric energy. For as yet unknown reasons, its turbine stopped turning. I have a hunch that seaweed (kelp, etc.) hanging up on the flukes is a major part of the problem. Barnacles and corrosion will do the rest.
What may appear to be a “perfect” engineering design on a drafting table (oops, I mean computer design program) is no match for Mother Nature’s superior powers, especially when it comes to ocean power energy-generation ideas.
Both the fish and visitors to the Bay of Fundy will keep enjoying the vistas and benefits of the way it is and, as I suspect, for a long time to come.
Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser is a professional scientist with a Ph.D. in chemistry from the Technical University, Munich, Germany. He has worked as a research scientist and project chief at Environment Canada‘s Canada Centre for Inland Waters for over 30 years and is currently Director of Research at TerraBase Inc. He is author of nearly 300 publications in scientific journals, government and agency reports, books, computer programs, trade magazines, and newspaper articles.
Dr. Kaiser has been president of the International Association for Great Lakes Research, a peer reviewer of numerous scientific papers for several journals, Editor-in-Chief of the Water Quality Research Journal of Canada for nearly a decade, and an adjunct professor. He has contributed to a variety of scientific projects and reports and has made many presentations at national and international conferences.
Dr. Kaiser is author of CONVENIENT MYTHS, the green revolution – perceptions, politics, and facts
Dr. Kaiser can be reached at: email@example.com
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