The Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) was established in 2009 as Canada’s leading test centre for tidal energy technology. FORCE is a non-profit grid-connected test facility in the Minas Passage, Bay of Fundy, intended to allow developers, regulators, scientists, and academics to study and demonstrate the performance of in-stream tidal energy turbines and their interactions with the environment. The FORCE site consists of five subsea berths for tidal stream energy conversion devices, subsea power cables that can enable the connection of turbines to land-based infrastructure, a subsea data cable, an onshore transformer substation, and a shore-based visitor centre.
FORCE’s test site is in the Minas Passage area of the Bay of Fundy near Black Rock, 10 km west of Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. Minas Passage, only 5 km wide and bordered by basalt cliffs, is the entrance to Minas Basin, the region of the world’s highest tides. FORCE is located in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq, covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” which Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) People first signed with the British Crown in 1725. Mi’kmaw Peoples have lived on and cared for this land for over 13,500 years.
At mid-tide, the current in Minas Passage is about 4 cubic km per hour. About 160 billion tonnes of water flows through the Bay of Fundy each tidal cycle, equal to four times the estimated flow of all the freshwater rivers in the world combined. With the incoming tide, approximately 14 billion tonnes of seawater flows through Minas Passage into Minas Basin, and central Nova Scotia tilts slightly under the immense load.
The complete Environmental Assessment Registration Document for FORCE (Registered on June 17, 2009 under the Nova Scotia Environment Act), including the Terms and Conditions of Approval (including addenda from 2010 and 2015) can be viewed here. The conditions of its EA approval provide for comprehensive, ongoing, and adaptive environmental management. The EA approval has been amended since it was issued to accommodate changes in technologies and inclusion of more berths to facilitate provincial demonstration goals.
FORCE also has a Crown land lease from the Province of Nova Scotia, which allows it to conduct activities at its demonstration site. Berth holders at the FORCE site are selected by the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines.
Each berth holder is responsible for obtaining all permits and approvals for their individual project. This includes authorizations and/or reviews from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Transport Canada, and a review of its environmental effects monitoring program by the Nova Scotia Department of Environment.
As Canada’s leading test centre for tidal stream energy technology, FORCE has worked to advance marine research in the Bay of Fundy and beyond since 2009 with the first deployment of an OpenHydro turbine. In 2014, FORCE installed four subsea power cables, which will enable berth holders to connect to the Nova Scotia electrical grid.
Current berth holders include:
- Berth A: Minas Tidal Limited Partnership
- Berth B: Rio Fundo Operations Canada Limited
- Berth C: Sustainable Marine Energy Canada
- Berth D: Big Moon Power Canada
- Berth E: Haligonia Tidal Energy Limited
FORCE provides common infrastructure and permits, including:
- Subsea power cabling: four 34.5kV cables installed, totaling 11km and 64MW capacity
- Substation: 30MW transformer and turbine control bays
- Grid connection: 10km of 69kV transmission line, connecting FORCE substation to provincial power grid via existing Parrsboro substation
- Provincial and federal approvals, including Environmental Assessment and Generator Interconnection Agreements
- FORCE-managed on-site work permitting
In addition, FORCE has implemented several key programs:
- Fundy Advanced Sensor Technology (FAST) Program, which consists of onshore and offshore assets to support research and development and to advance efforts to monitor and characterize the FORCE site.
- Environmental Effects Monitoring Program (EEMP), which has been in place since 2009 to better understand the natural environment of the Minas Passage and the potential effects of turbines as related to fish, seabirds, marine mammals, lobster, marine noise, benthic habitat, and other variables. All documents are available online: fundyforce.ca/document-collection
- Risk Assessment Program for Tidal Stream Energy (RAP), which is intended to create a detailed, credible assessment tool to gauge the probability that fish will encounter a tidal device by combining biological data and physical oceanographic data
Key Environmental Issues
Monitoring at the FORCE site is currently focused on lobster, fish, marine mammals, seabirds, and marine sound and is divided into ‘near-field’ (≤ 100 m from a turbine) and ‘mid-field’ or ‘site-level’ (> 100 m from a turbine) monitoring. As approved by regulators, individual berth holders are responsible for leading near-field monitoring in the direct vicinity of their turbine(s).
Papers, Reports, Research Studies
- Environmental Assessment Registration Document - Fundy Tidal Energy Demonstration Project Volume I: Environmental Assessment.
- Studies associated with the EIA and Environmental Effects Monitoring Program are available on the website: https://fundyforce.ca/.
- For information about the Fundy Advanced Sensor Technology, see www.fundyforce.ca/fast.
- 2020 Environmental Effects Monitoring Program: https://fundyforce.ca/resources/1438c584a4ed260271459624b101a8a5/2020-EEMP-Report-Q1-FORCE.pdf
Baseline Assessment: Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE) Test Site
|Receptor||Study Description||Design and Methods||Results||Status|
|Marine Mammals||Visual surveys||Data on presence and activity of marine mammals in the Minas Passage near the tidal energy project site using shore- and vessel-based visual observation surveys.||Annual reports finding that harbour porpoise is the predominant marine mammal observed, with a few seals.||Ongoing in conjunction with shore-based seabird visual surveys and beach walks/observation program|
|Marine Mammals||Passive Acoustic Monitoring of Cetacean Activity Patterns and Movements||Passive acoustic monitoring of harbour porpoise using C-POD & IcListen hydrophones in the Minas Passage to assess how these vary temporally (with respect to time of day, weeks, months and across years), spatially (within and outside the FORCE test area) and with current patterns (tidal cycles and current velocity).||Baseline presence of harbour porpoise around FORCE site and comparison of acoustic devices for monitoring in high flow environments.||Continuation of C-POD deployments and turbine mounted hydrophones ongoing|
|Fish||Acoustic Tracking of Fish Movements||A multi-year tracking study was conducted to assess the movements of four species of concern that utilize the FORCE test area as a migratory route and for other movements (e.g. foraging) - Atlantic sturgeon, Atlantic salmon, American eel and striped bass. Thirty receiver stations were deployed in the Minas Basin and Passage to detect near year-round animal movements (path, velocity and depth) and behaviour of 386 fish tagged with VEMCO transmitters from 2010-2013.||The report summarizes findings on baseline movement of fish species in the Minas Passage and through the test site. Results show that the corridor for fish migration through the Minas Passage is broad and includes the FORCE test area. The results of this study provided evidence of minor use of the passage by out-migrating American eel and Atlantic salmon smolts and more frequent use of the passage by Atlantic sturgeon and striped bass.||Completed; ongoing tagging and receiver deployment within Minas Passage|
|Fish||Intertidal Weir Surveys||Fish catches at two commercial fishing weirs in the Minas Basin were recorded to examine the temporal and environmental (e.g. temp, tide height) patterns in the presence and abundance of resident and migratory fishes. Sampling was conducted during April/May – August 2013 near weekly during daytime low tides and day and night sampling was conducted on 14 consecutive low tides in July at one site.||Data collected provides pre-turbine baseline data on many migratory fishes that move in and out of the Minas Passage.||Completed|
|Fish||Hydro-acoustic and Midwater Trawl Surveys||Boat surveys from June to August 2010, using a mid-water trawl and an echosounder fish monitoring system. Echo-sounder system sampled acoustic backscatter from throughout the water column to provide information on fish biomass seasonally and spatially and the fishing was used to identify specific species and sizes of fish likely forming the acoustic targets.||Results indicate presence and relative abundance, of a wide range of fish species which use Minas Passage through the summer and fall.||Completed|
|Fish||Assessment of Potential Ecosystem Effects from Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Associated with Subsea Power Cables and TISEC Devices in Minas Channel||Review of Current Literature and Assessment of Risk from EMFs on organisms in Minas Passage.||Report presents overview and preliminary evaluation of risk to priority species in Minas Passage.||Completed|
|Birds||Visual surveys||Data on presence and activity of seabirds in the Minas Passage near the tidal energy project site using shore- and vessel-based visual observation surveys (standard observation protocols).||Annual report summarizes abundance and patterns since 2009.||Ongoing|
|Invertebrates||Lobster Tagging Program||The purpose of this work was to determine the year-round use of Minas Passage as a corridor for movement of lobster. |
Adult American lobster were captured, tagged with VEMCO acoustic transmitters and released back into the Minas Basin. The lobsters were tracked by bottom-mounted acoustic receiver stations deployed in the Minas Passage. Tracking occurred November – December 2011; April – August 2012; and December 2012-October 2013.
|Results suggest lobsters in the Minas Basin move through the Minas Passage towards the Minas Channel in the late fall/early winter and may move back eastward in the spring. |
Some lobsters may remain in the Minas Basin over the winter and move back through the Minas Passage.
|Physical Environment||Currents, waves and tides||Vessel-mounted, moored, and turbine-mounted ADCPs. X-band radar, tide gauge. Modelling.||Data collection and modelling of currents, turbulence, waves and tides for use by berth holders and scientists.||Ongoing|
|Physical Environment||Sonar Surveys||Multibeam sonar survey of berth sites and cable routes.||Characterization of bathymetry, geology and sediment transport and suspended sediments.||Completed|
|Physical Environment||Environmental Monitoring of Seabed Sediment Stability, Transport and Benthic Habitat||Designed to determine conditions on the bottom after the recovery of the turbine in 2010. A side-scan sonar and towed video camera survey was conducted at a Reference Site and at the location of the test deployment site in 2010. Sonograms and side-scan sonar mosaics were interpreted, compared and contrasted with previously collected multi-beam bathymetry and derived backscatter and slope imagery.||The analysis showed no detectable seabed change at the Reference Site since the original data was collected.||Completed|
|Physical Environment, Invertebrates||Video and Photograph Analysis of Bottom Substrate and Associated Epibenthic Biota||Analysis of video and still photographs taken in 2008-2009 survey to characterize pre-deployment (baseline) benthic habitat within the FORCE test site, including benthic substrate type and macrofaunal biota present.||The survey detected a low number of species present in the FORCE lease area and cable routes, with yellow breadcrumb sponge being the most abundant species.||Completed|
|Physical Environment||Water Quality||Oceanographic measurements included water column temperature, salinity and turbidity profiling; suspended sediments.||Information on water transparency, suspended sediment, and water temperature.||Completed|
|Physical Environment||Acoustic Monitoring||The goals of this project were to: collect pre-deployment (baseline) data on the ambient acoustic environment in the FORCE test site using fixed hydrophone and to assess and refine mooring designs for acoustic monitoring systems in high flow environments.||The results demonstrate that it is possible to collect ambient and in-stream turbine noise signatures in high flow conditions using a fixed autonomous recorder. Mooring designs were tested and improved.||Completed|
|Fish||Hydroacoustic fish surveys||9 hydroacoustic fish surveys were conducted in Minas Passage from May 2016 – August 2017.||The 2019 EEMP Report describes the findings of these surveys and analysis coupled with historical data.||Completed|
|Birds||Radar data||Radar scans were assessed to determine if the data could be used to monitor seabird activity at the FORCE site.||Results, including a clear seasonal pattern and effect of wind speed and direction, are described in the 2019 EEMP Report.||Completed|
|Invertebrates||Modified catchability survey design.||TriNav Fisheries Consultants evaluated the efficacy of using a variety of methods including divers and hydroacoustic tags to track lobster movements.||Ultimately, TriNav Fisheries Consultants identified the combination of a modified catchability survey design and a mark-recapture study using conventional tags as the best approach for monitoring lobster at the FORCE site.||Planned|
Post-Installation Monitoring: Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE) Test Site
|Stressor||Receptor||Study Description||Design and Methods||Results||Status|
|Collision||Marine Mammals||Active Acoustic Monitoring of Cetaceans||Active Acoustic Monitoring (AAM) sonar to be used in conjunction with PAM methods to fully understand the likelihood of nearfield interactions at a turbine.||N/A||Implemented by Cape Sharp Tidal Venture; data collection and analysis ongoing|
|Collision||Fish||Hydro-acoustic Surveys||Use of downward-looking hydro-acoustics to measure fish density and distribution in water column, leading to creation of an encounter probability model. Three 24-hour surveys pre-deployment (May, August, October 2016) and four 24-hour surveys during operation (November 2016, January, March, May 2017). Additional surveys after removal of Cape Sharp turbine (July, August, November 2017).||Preliminary results show no significant effect of the turbine on the density of fish in the mid-field of the turbine or fish vertical distributions. Surveys will continue ~1-2 times per season in 2018.||Ongoing|
|Collision||Fish||Active Acoustic Monitoring of Fish||Active Acoustic Monitoring (AAM) sonar to be used in conjunction with PAM methods to fully understand the likelihood of nearfield interactions at a turbine.||N/A||Implemented by Cape Sharp Tidal Venture; data collection and analysis ongoing|
|Avoidance, Displacement||Marine Mammals||Passive Acoustic Monitoring of Cetacean Activity Patterns and Movements||Passive acoustic monitoring of harbour porpoise using C-POD & IcListen hydrophones in the Minas Passage to assess how these vary temporally (with respect to time of day, weeks, months and across years), spatially (within and outside the FORCE test area) and with current patterns (tidal cycles and current velocity).||In 2016 and 2017, porpoises were detected on 98.4% of days. Initial results provide no evidence of permanent avoidance in the mid-field of the turbine, but there was a temporary decline in detection rate post turbine installation (41-46%), likely due to vessel activity.||Ongoing|
|Habitat Change||Fish, Invertebrates||Fundy Advanced Sensor Technology (FAST) Program||Onshore (MET station, X-band radar) and offshore assets (three subsea platforms)||FAST-1 has been deployed and recovered with an acoustic zooplankton and fish profiler (to assess zooplankton and fish density and depth distribution); FAST-2 will soon be deployed with a dynamic mount with a Tritech Gemini imaging sonar; and FAST-3 has undergone multiple deployments with an acoustic zooplankton and fish profiler and an autonomous scientific echosounder.||Ongoing|
|Habitat Change||Human Dimensions, Fisheries||Lobster Catchability Surveys||This study was based on measuring lobster catches within test and control areas using commercial lobster traps, in an attempt to assess potential changes in fishing success as result of the deployment and operation of a tidal turbine. Three surveys were conducted, two in the fall of 2009 (before and after turbine deployment) and one in the spring of 2010.||Lobster fishing is essentially the only commercial fishing activity which occurs in the vicinity of the tidal energy demonstration area. The key results are summarized for the 2009 and 2010 surveys; these include independent statistical results review and recommendations for future surveys.||Completed|
|Habitat Change||Human Dimensions, Fisheries||Lobster Catchability Surveys||A study of similar methods as described above. The first survey took place during October-November 2017 while the turbine was not present, while a second study is planned during turbine operation.||During the first survey, 48 traps were deployed and had an average daily catch rate from 4.79-8.99 kg lobster/trap.||Ongoing|
|Habitat Change||Fish, Invertebrates||Near-field Benthic Monitoring||To be determined||N/A||Planned; FORCE will work with berth holders to conduct near-field benthic monitoring 2018+|
|Noise||Physical Environment||Acoustic Monitoring||The goal of this program is to collect pre- and post-turbine deployment data on the soundscape of the Minas Passage using different drifting hydrophone configurations. Deployments in October 2016 and March 2017, with more planned in 2018.||Initial results are that the main source of noise is sediment movement associated with tidal flow and nearby vessel activity. March 2017 drifting hydrophones were able to pick up sounds from the OpenHydro turbine.||Ongoing|