The Bay of Fundy, known for its immense tidal range, is being called the Mount Everest of tidal power.
Port of Saint John CEO Jim Quinn made the comparison on Monday at New Brunswick’s first Tidal Power Summit being held in Saint John.
Recently, a lot of tidal power focus has been on Nova Scotia, but officials say more needs to be done on the New Brunswick side of the bay.
“Here in New Brunswick we need to up our game in terms of being well informed and being participants in the actual work that’s tied to tidal power development,” Quinn said.
“Maybe we’re a little bit down the road before we’ll see actual tidal generation taking place in the Bay of Fundy, but we’ve got an opportunity right here on our doorstep to do some of the work to support it,” Natural Resources Minister Rick Doucet said.
The Port of Saint John, is hopeful that some of that work can be done there and looking forward to tidal power one day entering the commercial phase.
“There’s going to be a lot more work for a lot of parties, right from logistics to people who would be building the turbines to all the tug and barge and heavy lift and supply houses,” said Andrew Dixon, Sr. VP of trade and development.
Dixon says there is port land dedicated to tidal power and work is being done to ensure the infrastructure is in place to support the industry in the future.
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Still, many questions swirl around the concept of tidal power — which is still in its early stages of development.
“We need to understand the viability of the industry and then the environmental impacts,” according to Tony Wright of Nova Scotia based Fundy Ocean Resource Center for Energy.
A big step forward for harnessing tidal power in the Bay of Fundy is already being taken in Nova Scotia, as the government has given the green light for two massive tidal turbines to be deployed to the Minas Passage.
“We’ll get to see the first grid connected turbines installed at our project site … commensurate with that, we have an ambitious environmental monitoring program established to try and understand how the special and marine life will interact with these devices when they’re installed,” Wright said.
An exact date for the tidal turbine installation in the Minas Passage hasn’t been released. Those turbines are expected to generate enough power for 1000 homes when connected to the grid.