SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick — The next great hope for renewable energy is moored to a dock in this Canadian port city. It resembles a beached Ferris wheel.
Designed to capture the power of the legendary tides of the Bay of Fundy, the 52-foot-diameter Cape Sharp Tidal turbine endured the winter and spring on the seabed in Nova Scotia, generating electricity. Now in port for upgrades, the 1,100-ton machine looks as if it has survived a couple rounds with a powerful adversary.
Its paint is slightly worn. Fierce Fundy currents ripped away the metal anodes attached to the machine's rotating rim. But the turbine survived, which is an improvement over an earlier model's performance.
"This was the first machine that was able to generate power for that amount of time in that environment, so it was a resounding success," said Christian Richard, director of Cape Sharp Tidal, a joint venture between Nova Scotia energy company Emera Inc. and the Irish turbine manufacturer OpenHydro.
Cape Sharp recovered the prototype from 190 feet of water in June and towed it to Saint John's West Side Docks for modifications. It plans to redeploy the turbine this year for a new trial, along with an identical twin — taking, it hopes, another step toward the long-term goal of generating power from offshore underwater tidal farms.