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British energy firms turn the tides with Canada

22 July 2015

Five British companies are celebrating, having received grant funding from Innovate UK to develop tidal energy projects with Canadian businesses and universities.

Split across two projects, worth a combined £700,000, these new schemes will help governments, industry and academia better understand the impact of tidal technology on the marine environment, and the impact of the marine environment on that technology.

The first project involves UK-based FloWave TT, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), and Ocean Array Systems alongside British Columbia-based Dalhousie University, Black Rock Tidal Power and project leaders Rockland Scientific.

As part of this project, Rockland Scientific and its partners will develop a new sensor system to measure the impact of turbulence on tidal devices. Improved understanding of turbulence will allow developers to optimise design and deploy technology that can withstand the effects of strong tides and currents.

Stuart Brown, chief executive officer at FloWave said his company is pleased to be able to partner in this project. "Our test tank is uniquely capable of replicating both EMEC and the Bay of Fundy at scale and the prospect of new instrumentation, data and analysis techniques that will help the industry better understand and address the challenge of turbulence in the tidal flow, particularly around structures and within projects, is to be welcomed," he adds.

The second project involves UK-based Tritech International, Ocean Sonics, and the Sea Mammal Research Unit’s UK and Canada divisions in partnership with Nova Scotia-based OpenHydro Canada, Acadia University and project leaders Emera. This project will develop an acoustic sensing system to improve the detection and tracking of fish and marine mammals at tidal sites in the Bay of Fundy.

The software will be used at the Cape Sharp Tidal berth at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy, gathering real-time data to assess the impact of its tidal turbine on marine life in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. Tritech has extensive subsea acoustic expertise and this project allows for further enhancements to a system which already successfully helps classify and track a range of subsea targets.

Today’s announcement is the first under the memorandum of understanding signed between Nova Scotia and the UK. Two projects have been selected for funding through a partnership between the Offshore Energy Research Association (OERA), a Nova Scotia based not-for-profit research facilitator, and Innovate UK.

The project involving FloWave will carry out research in both UK and Canadian waters, including the University of Edinburgh’s FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility. This facility hosts a one-of-a-kind, 25-metre diameter circular wave and current tank that holds 2.4 million litres of water. Wave makers on the surface and flow-drive units underneath create currents in multiple directions, mimicking the conditions within tidal energy sites.

Testing will also be conducted in Scotland’s Orkney Islands at EMEC and in Canada’s Bay of Fundy.

This project has recently received the internationally recognised 'EUREKA Label' designation. EUREKA is an EU-based intergovernmental network with associate member nations, including Canada, and supports market oriented R&D and innovation projects. The label will add value to the Rockland project, providing partners with a competitive edge when it comes to commercialising technology.

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