August 13, 2018 2:48 pm
Updated: August 14, 2018 5:50 pm

Emera Inc. left with no ‘practical choice’ but to pull support from Cape Sharp Tidal project

WATCH: Emera Inc., the parent company of Nova Scotia Power, has officially pulled its support from the troubled Cape Sharp Tidal project — an experimental in-stream tidal turbine located in the Bay of Fundy. Alicia Draus has more on this story.

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Emera Inc., the parent company of Nova Scotia Power, has officially pulled its support from the troubled Cape Sharp Tidal project — an experimental in-stream tidal turbine located in the Bay of Fundy.

The decision comes weeks after the company’s partner, OpenHydro Ltd., filed for liquidation, a move that Emera says was “shocking.”

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The company formally notified OpenHydro on Monday, saying it had no “practical choice” but to withdraw from the project.

“Without support from the technology developer, OpenHydro, to operate and maintain the technology and the turbine, we do not believe that there is further value in pursuing this project for our business,”  Emera Inc., said in a statement.

READ MORE: Tidal turbine can’t stay in the water indefinitely, N.S. minister says

The Cape Sharp Tidal project is a joint operation between Irish company OpenHydro — which held an 80 per cent stake in the venture — and Emera.

The project successfully connected the two-megawatt turbine to Nova Scotia’s electricity grid last month.

Questions still remain regarding the future of the tidal turbine, which remains at the bottom of the Bay of Fundy.

Nova Scotia’s energy minister said earlier this month that the turbine can’t be allowed to remain at the bottom of the bay for an extended period of time.

“This can’t go on forever,” said Derek Mombourquette.

“They (creditors and remaining partners) have indicated that they are implementing a contingency plan and I’m looking forward to what that plan is going to be.”

On Tuesday, Mobourquette said that the industry has plenty of potential for the province in the future.

Emera seems to be washing its hands of the project, saying that OpenHydro’s liquidators, Grant Thorton, is responsible for decision related to the operations and future of Open Hydro.

“Emera has repeatedly reinforced with Grant Thornton the need to continue environmental monitoring and safe operation of the deployed turbine and the importance of meeting all obligations of Cape Sharp Tidal and OpenHydro to local suppliers,” Emera said.

The company says they plan to continue to support in-stream tidal energy projects.

Federal Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said he would need to look into the specific project further but says tidal energy power is part of the future mix of energy in Canada.

“We will continue to work with our partners, provinces and territories who are at the forefront of developing these resources and provide them the necessary support that they need,” Sohi said in a statement.

The Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association previously tried to stop the project. Colin Sproul said their biggest concern was always environmental monitoring, and he said now it appears they were justified.

“Now they’re saying since the turbine isn’t connected to the grid and has no power that the environmental monitoring systems on the turbine don’t work, so last year when the turbine was connected to the grid not generating power they were saying they were still monitoring the project. It’s become very obvious this week that that was not true,” Sproul said.

WATCH: Cape Sharp tidal turbines almost ready to be deployed to Bay of Fundy

Cape Sharp’s first turbine was connected to the grid in November 2016, but it was later removed for inspections and servicing in June of last year.

An in-stream prototype was torn apart in 2009 by the bay’s powerful currents, which can move at 18 km/h.

OpenHydro’s bankruptcy was prompted by Paris-based Naval Energies’ decision to pull funding from its Dublin-based subsidiary.

In a statement issued last month, Naval Energies said it had stopped investing in tidal energy in Canada and in other locations, to focus on floating wind turbines and ocean thermal technology.

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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