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Acadia researchers net federal funding for tidal energy project

Acadia University Tidal Energy Institute member Dr. Richard Karsten is the lead researcher for a tidal energy project that just received $107,000 in federal funding.
Acadia University Tidal Energy Institute member Dr. Richard Karsten is the lead researcher for a tidal energy project that just received $107,000 in federal funding.

WOLFVILLE - A tidal energy project based at Acadia University is in line for some major funding from the federal government - $107,452 to be exact.

Lead researcher Dr. Richard Karsten, a mathematics professor working with the Acadia University Tidal Energy Institute, said the incoming grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) will be used to purchase mobile equipment that will help researchers gain a better understanding how tidal energy can be harnessed from various sites within the Bay of Fundy, including the Minas Passage.

“Minas Passage is a unique site. There is no other site like that in Canada. There’s few other sites in the world that (have a) similar type of speed and dynamics,” said Karsten, following a funding announcement held in Acadia’s K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre Oct. 12.

The team’s research will focus on gathering information regarding two key issues: how the turbulent Bay of Fundy tides impact tidal energy technology, and what effect tidal turbines have on the environment, primarily fish and mammals. 

“We believe that the fish can avoid the turbines in the way that they avoid any obstacles in the water,” he said.

“But can they avoid the turbines if they’re going through very turbulent flow?”

They intend to find out by purchasing advanced equipment that will allow for detailed tracking and monitoring around prospective turbine sites.

“What we are building through this project is the first advanced research computing system dedicated to tidal energy in Canada,” said Karsten, who added that they hope to develop a system that will allow for a thorough assessment of a larger area within the Bay of Fundy.

The end result, Karsten said, will be evidence-based data that provides a more comprehensive overview of what lies beneath the surface.

“I think when we build this up we will be the only place in the world doing it at this level of detail,” he said.

Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison President of the Treasury Board, said the Government of Canada views the research grant as a way of contributing to “ideas that will make a difference.”

“This will be the kind of foundational work that’s going to lead to successful tidal energy projects in the Minas Basin and the Bay of Fundy,” he added, shortly after making the funding announcement at Acadia Oct. 12 on behalf of Minister of Science Kristy Duncan.

The resulting research that will be undertaken by Acadia University Tidal Energy Institute could eventually shape the development of in-stream tidal energy in Nova Scotia, Brison said.

“As we make decisions, we want to make those decisions based on the best-possible evidence, the best-possible science.”

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