Frequently Asked Questions

Were is the Bay of Fundy located?

The Bay of Fundy is located on the Atlantic coast of North America, on the northeast end of the Gulf of Maine. It’s right between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with a small portion touching the U.S. state of Maine. Learn more about the area in our Bay of Fundy communities section »

If we are coming in from the USA, do we need passports?

Yes, you’ll need a passport to cross the border.

How fast is the current during the changing of the tides, and is this sufficient to produce tidal energy if turbines were in place?

The speed of the current varies greatly depending on where in the Bay of Fundy you are. However, a few years ago the Nova Scotia government set up a demonstration site in the the Minas Passage area of the Bay of Fundy. This location is close to Black Rock, about 10 kilometres west of Parrsboro. This particular site is ideal for tidal energy because it features:

  • water depths up to 45 metres at low tide
  • a sediment-free bedrock sea floor
  • straight flowing currents
  • water speeds up to 10 metres per second on ebb and flow

The Bay of Fundy is commonly regarded as the most potent site for in-stream tidal generation in North America. Early estimates suggest that the Minas Passage may be able to generate 300 megawatts of green, emission free electricity – enough energy to power close to 100,000 homes – while the Bay of Fundy as a whole could provide up to 8,000 MW of installed capacity.

Unlike with a barrage or dam system, in-stream tidal devices are placed in the flowing tidal stream to harness its kinetic energy. The technology is brand new and the first device tested in the Bay of Fundy – a 400-tonne heavy 1 MW undersea turbine developed by the Irish company OpenHydro – had to be pulled out of the water a year early because the Fundy tides broke of all the turbine’s blades. It will take some time to test and refine these devices to create a commercially viable technology that can withstand the violent Fundy tides.

That being said, there are currently three working tidal power plants in the world – one in France, one in Russia, and one in Nova Scotia. But these are all barrage plants that use dams to hold the water before releasing it through a generator – similar to conventional hydroelectric plants. Nova Scotia’s Tidal Generating Station has been operating since 1984. It uses the Bay of Fundy tides to produce 20 megawatts of energy – enough to power about 6,000 homes.

For more information an bit more about the whole test process take a look at this article: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/03/nova-scotia-joins-surge-on-tidal-power

Do the Bay of Fundy turbies work in both directions (e.g. incoming and outgoing tidal flow)? If so, how are the turbine blades oriented?

Yes, the OpenHydro turbine they deployed in the Bay of Fundy, and almost all other tidal turbine designs, work in both directions. Some images of the OpenHydro turbine can be found here: http://www.openhydro.com/images.html. They’ve also posted a demonstration video that clearly shows how the turbine works: Download video

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