Understanding the unique environmental conditions in the Bay of Fundy just got easier.
Today, the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE) unveiled two advanced underwater monitoring platforms, now in their final stages of testing in Dartmouth before sea trials in the Bay of Fundy.
“To harness the enormous power of the Bay of Fundy responsibly, we have to understand it,” said FORCE general manager Tony Wright. “We’ve built two subsea instrument platforms that will give us a clearer, moment-by-moment picture of what’s happening under the water.”
The Fundy Advanced Sensor Technology (FAST) platforms are recoverable instrument platforms designed to monitor and characterize the FORCE site. Using a variety of onboard sensing equipment, the platforms enable real-time data from the Minas Passage, including:
- currents and turbulence
- marine life activity
- noise levels
- seabed stability
“Many ocean sensors were not designed to operate in the extreme high flows at the FORCE site in the Minas Passage,” said FORCE platform manager Simon Melrose. “The platforms help take ocean monitoring to the next level, built by local companies with world class expertise in ocean technology – proving Canada has the skills to lead this industry.”
The smaller platform, FAST-1, weighs 650 kilograms and measures 3-metres in length and is designed for subsea data cable connection, enabling access to real-time data from the Minas Passage. FAST-1 will be transported to the FORCE site shortly to begin sea trials. FAST-2, at 4.5-tons and 4-metres in length, is designed for more frequent deployment and recovery to enable instrument testing, and will begin trials later this year.
The platforms are part of a $6.8 million FAST program that has supported FORCE efforts to better understand the Minas Passage. This has included subsea data collection, subsea data cable installation, shore-based radar and meteorological equipment, as well as platform fabrication, instrumentation, and deployment. FAST is supported by Encana Corporation, Natural Resources Canada, and FORCE developers.
Reliable site data is critical to all aspects of in-stream tidal energy development, including the design, installation, and maintenance of turbines, as well as understanding and measuring any effects on the marine ecosystem.
Many companies have been involved in the FAST platform. A partial list of businesses and their contributions includes:
- ABCO Industries (Lunenburg, NS) built the large platform
- Blue C designs (Halifax, NS) designed custom onboard orientation technology with acoustic interrogation
- Dominion Diving (Dartmouth, NS) provided the facilities to mobilize and assemble all project components
- Dynamic Systems Analysis (Halifax, NS) modelled tidal flow loadings and platform deployment
- EMO Marine Technologies Ltd. (Dartmouth, NS) designed and built the fibre optic system to bring data ashore
- JASCO Applied Sciences (Dartmouth, NS) will use the platform to advance passive acoustic science and technology
- Lenkeek Vessel Engineering (Dartmouth, NS) provided the large platform final design
- Ocean Networks Canada (Victoria, BC) supported initial concept development and provides real-time data online
- OceanWorks International (Vancouver, BC) completed the preliminary design of the large platform and recovery system
- Open Seas Instrumentation (Musquodoboit Harbour, NS) designed and built the small platform
- Velocity Machining & Welding (Dartmouth, NS) fabricated high precision components for the large platform
- ROMOR Ocean Solutions ( Dartmouth, NS) Underwater Batteries, Acoustic underwater modems, Underwater Acoustic Releases, underwater electrical connectors, and underwater camera.
- Seabird Scientific (Satlantic) (Halifax, NS) Supplied Sensors
Scott Carr, CEO of JASCO Applied Sciences, said: “The FAST platform has potential beyond the Bay of Fundy alone – the technologies and methods we’re working on here could be exported for use in other high flow sites around the world.”
Tom Knox, owner and president of EMO Marine Technologies, said: “Since getting involved in the tidal sector, we’ve been busy. EMO Marine has been able to scale-up our operation, as we prepare for even more demand going forward.”
John Meisner, president of ABCO Industries, said: ”Tidal energy holds enormous potential for innovative companies like ABCO to play a role in growing Nova Scotia’s rural economy.”
Mr. Wright added: “Canada’s skills in ocean technology are directly transferrable to the tidal sector. FORCE has already worked with over 125 businesses and institutions, over 90 per cent from Atlantic Canada. We have the people to make it happen right here.”
FORCE is Canada’s lead centre for in-stream tidal energy technology demonstration, located in the Bay of Fundy. FORCE collaborates with industry, government, and researchers to study the interaction between tidal turbines and the Fundy environment, providing research, environmental monitoring, and the electrical infrastructure to deliver power to the grid. FORCE receives funding support from the Government of Canada, the Province of Nova Scotia, Encana Corporation, and participating developers. More at fundyforce.ca