The troubled Cape Sharp Tidal turbine in the Bay of Fundy is not in compliance with its environmental assessment approval, Nova Scotia’s energy minister says.
Derek Mombourquette said Thursday that required environmental monitoring isn’t being done, with the massive turbine still sitting active in the waters of the Minas Passage amid questions about the project’s future.
Mombourquette said he has talked with project partner Emera Inc. about doing the monitoring, but the Halifax-based energy company has not indicated whether it will step in.
Complicating matters is the fact Emera pulled out of the project this month after its project partner, OpenHydro Ltd. of Ireland, filed for liquidation after its parent company pulled funding.
The Cape Sharp project is an attempt to harness some of the world’s most powerful tides.
“At this point right now, Emera has indicated that they are moving away from tidal, but they’re still engaged in the project, they’re still a partner, so we still have expectations from them and we’re still talking to them,” Mombourquette said.
Mombourquette did not say if Emera committed to bringing the project up to compliance, but said all partners need to “move quickly” to ensure the required environmental monitoring is in place.
“Our message to all the partners ... this needs to get into compliance sooner than later, that we would not have a long window of opportunity here,” he said.
“To be quite frank, I have very little patience left for it, so for me, we need to get to a process, a conclusion of this process.”
Mombourquette said the province will look at future steps including fines, but will wait until the current court process plays itself out in Ireland before making any further moves.
He added that he would like to see proper monitoring of the project and a new viable energy option in Nova Scotia.
“We want to monitor a safe operation of the turbine,” he said. “We believe in tidal energy and the potential that it has for the province here.”
On Thursday, Environment Minister Margaret Miller said the government is working with stakeholders, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and tidal energy test centre FORCE to remedy the situation.
“We’re asking for all the information they can and we’re working with the other regulators,” she said. “They are in violation (of their environmental approval,) but we are working with them to bring them into compliance.”
The Cape Sharp Tidal project is a joint operation between OpenHydro – which is owned by Paris-based Naval Energies and held an 80 per cent stake in the venture – and Emera, which invested more than $12 million.
Cape Sharp’s first turbine was connected to the grid in November 2016, but it was later removed for inspections and servicing in June of last year.
In 2009, an in-stream prototype was torn apart by the bay’s powerful currents, which can move at 18 kilometres per hour.