FORCE Announces New Ocean-Monitoring Program

Canada’s efforts to become a world leader in tidal energy research and technology are taking a significant step forward. The Bay of Fundy, home to the world’s highest tides, will also soon be home to the world’s first underwater monitoring platform designed specifically for extreme, high-flow tide conditions.

FORCE (Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy) announced a new high-tech ocean-monitoring program to advance the science around the world’s most powerful tides, supported by $10 million from the Government of Canada, Encana Corporation, FORCE participants, and Ocean Networks Canada.

“When it comes to designing a successful tidal turbine for the Bay of Fundy, the more we know, the better,” said John Woods, FORCE Chair and VP for Energy Development for Minas Basin Pulp and Power. “This project will take our understanding to the next level.”

The program will be a world-first: designing, building, and deploying a subsea monitoring platform capable of performing in the extreme, high flow conditions of the FORCE test area. The platform will also be connected to the FORCE observation facility by submarine cable.

Speaking to an international gathering of representatives from industry, government, and research at the Ocean Renewable Energy Group conference in Halifax, Mr. Woods continued: “We are installing a turbine in one of the fastest flowing tidal races in the world, 40 meters below the surface of the ocean. We need to know everything we can about these conditions: current speeds, direction of flow, water content, and how everything changes. This information is essential to success.”

The subsea monitoring program will allow:

– continuous, synchronized data collection (including currents, turbulence, and other environmental data)

– more accurate visualization of marine life behavior and movement

– real time instrument adjustments

– the future development of a new standard of high-flow turbine monitoring world-wide

“This new funding will support the development of an instrumentation platform that will be cable-connected and enable research and development activities,” said Scott Armstrong, MP for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, on behalf of the Honourable Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources. “This will allow us to better understand the challenges of the resource at hand and, in so doing design technology to harness power from the world’s highest tides.”

“We are extremely proud to partner with the Government of Canada, Ocean Networks Canada and FORCE turbine developers to help drive technological innovation and research in the Bay of Fundy,” says Bob Grant, Executive Vice-President, Corporate Development, EH&S and Reserves, Encana Corporation.

“This program will demonstrate how world leading Canadian technologies and expertise in ocean observing systems can be applied to high flow environments,” said Ocean Networks Canada Director, Scott McLean. “As a collaborative, cross-country initiative, the program will build Canadian expertise in this important emerging global market sector.”

The announcement is made possible by $5 million from the Government of Canada, $3 million from Encana Corporation (a previous loan converted to a grant), $1 million from FORCE turbine developers, and $1 million of in-kind support from project partner Ocean Networks Canada.

FORCE made a number of other announcements including:

– the appointment of two new independent board directors: Joe Fitzharris and Doreen Malone (see bios below),

– the completion of the electrical infrastructure (substation, transmission, cable ducts),

– the acquisition of new data around current velocities at FORCE

“We are pleased to welcome Ms. Malone and Mr. Fitzharris to the Board of Directors,” said Mr. Woods. “Their experience and expertise will be an invaluable asset to the FORCE team.”

Press Release, September 18, 2013