The Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) in Parsborro, Nova Scotia, is entering into a joint research project with the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in the Scottish Orkney Islands to test how marine coatings react in different sea conditions.
The installation earlier this month by Cape Sharp Tidal of the first of two OpenHydro Open-Centre 2MW, 16-metre, 1,000 tonne turbines in the Bay of Fundy’s Minas Passage near FORCE’s test facility has been a project in the making since at least 2009, when a one-megawatt turbine deployed in the same location was destroyed by extreme tidal conditions.
“Working in the Bay of Fundy, our sensor platforms have to operate in extreme high-flow conditions,” said FORCE general manager Tony Wright. “Our site experiences 14 billion tonnes of water every tide, moving at speeds above 20 kilometres an hour. Working in the world’s highest tides is a challenge, but also an opportunity for technologies to meet the ultimate test of durability: the ‘Fundy Standard.’ EMEC and FORCE are both working to advance the marine renewable energy sector responsibly and economically, and opportunities like this – to share research, knowledge, and technology – is critical to that work.”
While a lot of attention is paid to technology itself, in this case the undersea turbine technology for generating energy, what’s often neglected is the fact that keeping the technology safe from harm and corrosion in extreme conditions is itself a type of technological advance.
“Corrosion and other associated issues are a big challenge for wave and tidal energy technologies given that devices could be deployed at sea for years at a time,” said EMEC Managing Director, Neil Kermode. “During discussions we realised that the marine conditions experienced at FORCE’s test site in Nova Scotia are very different from what we are seeing across the pond at EMEC, in Orkney. So the inclusion of a technology testing program with us will provide a different experience if they then decide to deploy in Canada, or vice versa.”
FORCE and EMEC will be working with Pennsylvania-based high-performance coatings manufacturer Whitford, on testing the performance of marine coatings at both test facilities.
“The conditions experienced by FORCE’s sensor lander got me thinking about the Whitford coatings we have been testing in Orkney,” said Kermode. “A quick call to Whitford confirmed that they were keen to see how applicable their products are in the Canadian waters and we already knew the FORCE team welcome collaborative research.”
Whitford and the EMEC have been working together since 2014, testing the performance of coatings in the extreme environments found at EMEC’s Orkney test sites.
“Working with EMEC has been great. We have proven so much about our product and that is leading to sales,” said Whitford Renewable Energy Manager, Gareth Berry. “The Canadian market is really big due to the scale of the marine energy resource and we are keen to get our product tested and proven there too. When we heard about FORCE and EMEC’s ideas we jumped at the chance.”
In 2011, the UK and Canada entered into a strategic agreement to collaborate on developing marine energy, which led to the testing of sensor technology in the waters off Nova Scotia.
That agreement and the collaborations that followed has led to a close working relationship between the EMEC and researchers working in the Canadian Maritimes.