The Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE) is Canada’s leading research centre for the demonstration and evaluation of tidal in-stream energy conversion (TISEC) technology. TISEC technology (commonly referred to as “tidal energy turbines”), is designed to generate renewable energy from tidal resource sites across Canada and the globe. Fundamental to FORCE’s mandate is the monitoring and reporting of any environmental effects from tidal turbines at the FORCE site.
FORCE is a demonstration project, with berth sites granted to a number of technology developers (or berth holders) including Atlantis Operations Canada, DP Energy, Black Rock Tidal Power, Cape Sharp Tidal Ventures, and Minas Energy, The government of Nova Scotia has granted 22.5 megawatts (MW) of TISEC capacity at FORCE, under the province’s developmental feed-in tariff program. This represents the deployment of approximately two to three TISEC turbines by each developer at their berth site. As these deployments are expected to be phased in over the next several years, FORCE and regulators will have opportunity to adapt environmental monitoring approaches over time, both to better understand what effects turbines may have on the environment, and to report on the monitoring results and any identified effects to the public.
Environmental monitoring has been ongoing at FORCE since 2007 when background studies were initiated for the project Environmental Assessment (EA). When the initial EA was approve d by the federal and provincial governments in 2009, the development and implementation of environmental effects monitoring programs (EEMPs) were stipulated in the Terms and Conditions of EA Approval. In response, FORCE completed 20 monitoring studies between 2009 and late 2013, including fish characterization, seabirds, marine mammals, lobster tracking, marine noise, benthic habitat, electromagnetic fields, and more. The results of the studies undertaken to date along with the original EA are available on the FORCE website: http://fundyforce.ca/environment/.
A turbine was operational at the FORCE site for a short time in 2009. Since removal of this unit in 2010, no tidal turbines have been present at the FORCE site. Consequently, the environmental studies conducted between 2009 and 2015 have largely focused on the collection of background data, rather than on monitoring the effects of turbines. This situation will change with the planned deployment of two cable-connected turbines in 2016 followed by additional deployments in subsequent years.
This report describes new EEMPs based on data and lessons learned from the environmental studies conducted to date. The EEMPs are designed to supplement background datasets where needed but are primarily aimed at verifying predictions made in the EA and at monitoring the environmental effects of operating turbines. The EEMPs are intended to monitor potential effects from the initial demonstration scale project, rather than from a potential commercial scale project that may occur in the future. To this end, the EEMPs are limited to effects within the FORCE Crown Lease Area (CLA), and do not attempt to measure effects in the much larger Bay of Fundy.
Monitoring programs have been developed for five subject areas: Lobsters, Fish, Marine Mammals, Marine Seabirds and Acoustics (marine noise). The EEMPs are intended to cover initial turbine deployments over the time period 2016-2021. The programs are designed to accommodate unforeseen changes in turbine deployment schedules and are adaptive to initial monitoring results. It is also expected that the design and/or methods of certain programs may be updated in later years once early results are known.
Within the C LA measuring 1.0 x 1.6 km, FORCE leases to each berth holder a dedicated berth some 200 m in diameter. The berth holder in turn will deploy, operate and test their turbine technologies, which will be connected to the electrical grid through dedicated subsea cables. Given these overlapping areas of responsibility, the berth holders are responsible for monitoring within a 100 m radius of their turbines (the so-called “near field” effects), while FORCE will be responsible for monitoring outside of this zone within the CLA (the so-called “mid field” effects). Berth holder-generated EEMPs will be available to provide a comprehensive picture of all monitoring that will be undertaken within the CLA. FORCE will:
- report results from both the FORCE and berth holder EEMPs to regulators; and
- make all EEMP reports available to the public.
The FORCE EEMPs are intended to be practical, achievable using available technologies, and demonstrative of negative or null effects. The monitoring approaches also reflect the difficulty in operating in this high energy environment and certain technological limitations inherent in some of the equipment that will be employed. However, through these EEMPs, FORCE intends to progressively verify the environmental effect predictions made in the original EA over the next five years. A summary of the programs is presented in the table at the end of this report.