Thanks to Canada’s Economic Action Plan, and the Community Adjustment Fund, harnessing water to generate power is closer to reality through the work of Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE).
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The reason I mention Minas Basin Pulp and Power is that we were chosen by the province of Nova Scotia to build North America’s first tidal demonstration facility, so we really had to start with an open book: environmental assessments, site identification, we had to find the site, and then we had to get the site approved environmentally, and then from there on, we needed to equip it with infrastructure. All of this was happening simultaneously while we were focusing on the science and where we actually would like the site to be and how we get it environmentally approved. ACOA (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) approached us, and said that they would like to participate in a manner which suited their mandate and also helps with some of our needs. Up until that point, we hadn’t given much thought to what would be on the land as a landfall. We knew that we needed to bring these cables ashore and collect them into a substation and then send the energy off into the North American grid. It was the ACOA discussion with us that said, well, maybe we should have something greater than a simple scientific shed where people can run around in white lab coats, maybe there’s an opportunity in need for an interpretive centre which we had not considered simply because there was nothing in our budget that even allowed us to consider it. So the discussion with ACOA was underway, they had some tight deadlines which forced us to set aside some of our other priorities and focus with what we would like to see on the site. So it didn’t take long because we had a lot of bright people around; we coordinated with some of the other tourist-related facilities that are in the area: there’s a geological museum not far away, and there’s a part of the Glooscap Trail. So, anything at our tidal site would be a natural fit with the other facilities in the area. So really, hats off to ACOA for helping us through that, and they’re quite cooperative and quite complimentary to what we were doing.
In the end, we now have a gorgeous, beautiful facility. It’s 4000 square feet, plus or minus, it’s full of interpretive materials so that visitors from far and near can get a sense of what tidal energy is, the history of the area, because it really was settled by the Mi’kmaq first, now we’re the latest entries. So, where the site has come from, what the potential is, and how technology works, and the fossils, and the wildlife, and the sea life that are in the area. So, all of that has come about because of this ACOA grant.