FORCE Launches New Environmental Monitoring Program

[Note: image and backgrounder attached]

March 22, 2016 (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

With tidal energy turbines set to go in the Bay of Fundy in 2016, the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE) is enhancing its environmental monitoring efforts.

Today, FORCE, the Offshore Energy Research Association (OERA), and the Nova Scotia Department of Energy announced $500,000 in funding to begin a new environmental effects monitoring program (EEMP) at the FORCE site in the Minas Passage.

“We need to understand what effects in-stream tidal technologies may have on the marine ecosystem,” said Tony Wright, general manager of FORCE. “If tidal energy is to grow to a larger scale, development must happen responsibly.”

The program is designed to determine potential turbine effects on the marine environment with a focus on fish, lobster, marine birds, marine mammals, and acoustic effects.

While early research in other jurisdictions suggests the effects of in-stream tidal turbines may not be significant, the Minas Passage remains a unique environment requiring further study.

“Transparency is critical to our monitoring program,” added Anne-Marie Belliveau, director of environmental programs at FORCE. “Our commitment is to capture the data and make the results accessible to the public online.”

Accompanying the release of the EEMP, FORCE issued requests for proposals to conduct monitoring studies related to:

  • marine fish
  • lobster catchability
  • marine mammal data analysis
  • marine seabirds

“Tidal energy holds tremendous potential for our province –both as a source of clean power and as an economic opportunity for our growing ocean technology sector,” said Nova Scotia Energy Minister Michel Samson. “Monitoring and sharing data are important in realizing this potential – providing industry, scientists, regulators and the public with more information about how the technologies are interacting with the natural environment.”

Stephen Dempsey, executive director of the OERA, said: “Environmental monitoring is key to understanding the interactions of marine life with tidal energy devices as they are deployed in the Bay of Fundy this year.”

The $500,000 for environmental effects monitoring includes $250,000 from FORCE plus an additional $250,000 from OERA and the NS Department of Energy.

The monitoring plan was developed in consultation with SLR Consulting (Canada), provincial and federal regulators, and FORCE’s environmental monitoring advisory committee – which includes representatives from scientific, government, fishing, and First Nations communities.

Added Mr. Wright: “Canada can set the global standard for marine monitoring in powerful tidal sites like the Minas Passage. That’s not only an environmental obligation, that’s an economic opportunity.”

FORCE’s environmental effects monitoring plan (as well as 20 environmental monitoring studies completed to date): fundyforce.ca/environment/monitoring.

Tenders for new monitoring studies to support the plan: fundyforce.ca/media-center/opportunities/

Image: Marine mammal detection instrumentation ready for deployment in the Minas Passage, Bay of Fundy (previous study, credit: Acadia University)

Backgrounder: FORCE environmental effects monitoring program

About FORCE

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

About OERA

The Offshore Energy Research Association of Nova Scotia (OERA) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that funds and facilitates collaborative offshore energy and environmental research. Their mission is to lead environmental, renewable and geoscience energy research that enables the sustainable development of Nova Scotia’s energy resources through strategic partnerships with academic, government and industry. Since its establishment in 2006, the association has invested close to $30 million in research, funded by the Province of Nova Scotia through the Department of Energy.

Media Contacts:
Matthew Lumley
FORCE
902.406.1166 x2
matt.lumley@fundyforce.ca

 

Stephen Dempsey
OERA
902-406-7011
sdempsey@oera.ca