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Chad Macumber

MWD/LWD Engineer, Scientific Drilling International

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Tidal Energy

What do you think about tidal energy? It's not a new idea, but it is one that I think could have potential for success - particularly in poor countries.

In essence, tidal energy may consist of buoys (of some nature) connected to pistons and crankshafts secured to the sea-floors in areas with potent tides. As the buoys ride the waves the pistons turn and create mechanical power which is sent back to storage facilities onshore.

Do you think this technology has potential? Do you think it can be efficient in producing energy? Is it too far-fetched?

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  • Jun 14 2012: The Bay of Fundy is being looked at seriously for tidal power. It is the body of water that I am next to. So I have been watching this development. The government here has it as part of the sustainable energy targets, not to mention potential economic benefits further down the road, if it were to unfold as they hope.

    The concern is that the habitat there will be severely altered, but nobody can say what the effects might be. The Bay has been harvested for its wealth for a few hundred years now. There has been much alteration of the ecosystem in that time. The Environmental Assessment for tidal power have pretty much focused on the siting aspect of the test facility berths. http://fundyforce.ca/assessment

    I have some images of the area in question, in Nova Scotia, from an exhibition I had a few years back: http://www.novamaz.blogspot.ca/

    http://fundyforce.ca/ has the developers' side of the equation & video of the types of turbines being experimented with. Industry is keen to get as many of the units in the test site as they can–now. However, only one 1 MW closed-bladed unit has been in the Bay so far (the Minas Passage in particular) and it was trashed within 3 weeks by the force of the current. http://www.nspower.ca/en/home/environment/renewableenergy/tidal/projectoverview.aspx

    A couple of the open-bladed units are going in next year, apparently. The lobster fishers of the area are curious to see how long it will take for these to be trashed.

    Living here you often hear it cited that the equivalent of all the water in all the rivers in the world flow through the Bay twice a day: 14 cubic kilometres. And the tidal sweep in & out of the Bay is a calculated 60 GW of harvest-able energy. Apparently you begin to effect the resonance of the tides at around 5% of this, or 3 GW.

    I think it is most viable in a smaller, incremental approach, as the people at Fundy Tidal Inc are doing; a more community owned & operated approach. http://www.fundytidal.com/

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