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Canada – UK collaboration set to make a splash in tidal technology innovation

Canadian and British researchers have joined forces to collaborate on two projects in developing new sensing technologies for tidal energy applications.  The two projects, with a combined value of $1.43 million, were selected for funding through a joint research competition managed and funded by the Offshore Energy Research Association (OERA), a Nova Scotia based not-for-profit research group; and Innovate UK, a government funded business and innovation accelerator out of the UK.

The two project teams feature industry and academic expertise from Canada and the UK where each project will deliver new environmental monitoring and measurement sensor systems to support the tidal energy sector.  The key successes expected from this research are to reduce risk and uncertainties associated with the deployment and operation of in-stream tidal devices.

The first project is led by Emera Inc. in partnership with Acadia University, are working together with two Nova Scotia companies, one British Columbia company and two UK companies to deliver an innovative system using both passive and active acoustic sensor technologies.  The system will improve the ‘real-time’ detection and tracking of fish and marine mammals at tidal sites in the Bay of Fundy.  Field testing will be done at the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE) site in the Bay of Fundy.

“Environmental stewardship and research are an important component of building a vibrant tidal sector in Nova Scotia,” said Chris Huskilson, President and CEO of Emera Inc. “We look forward to collaborating with our partners to gain a deeper understanding of the marine environment in the Bay of Fundy, and help set the table for safe and responsible tidal power generation.”

The second project is led by British Columbia-based Rockland Scientific Inc., in partnership with Dalhousie University of Halifax, as well as one Nova Scotia company and three UK based companies.  Rockland Scientific and its partners will develop a new sensor system to measure the impact of turbulence on tidal devices.  The developed turbulence sensor system will be lab and field tested in both UK and Canadian waters.  FloWave TT CEO Stuart Brown, one of the UK project partners, commented that “To date, the techniques for measuring turbulence in the laboratory have been very different to those adopted at sea, making like-for-like comparisons more difficult.  This project will advance capabilities to improve such comparisons between environments.”  Project results will be used to improve turbine designs and operation performance.

Rockland Scientific’s president Dr. Fabian Wolk said: “On behalf of the project partners I would like to thank the OERA and Innovate UK for the funding award.  Without the vision and stewardship provided by these organizations this trans-Atlantic project would be impossible to implement.”

These two projects are evidence of the importance of collaboration in the development of technologies necessary for the emergence of the tidal energy industry.  International collaborative research can make a critical contribution to this objective.  Rob Saunders, head of energy at Innovate UK, comments “We believe that faster progress will be made by combining the expertise, knowledge and experience to tackle common problems.”

OERA’s investment of $500,000 represents the Province of Nova Scotia’s contribution to these projects.  Innovate UK is contributing $331,000 with remaining funds being provided by Canadian government agencies and industry partners’ in-kind leverage in both Canada and the UK.  The Emera project is scheduled to be completed in early fall 2018 and the Rockland project is set for completion in late 2017.