1. Announcing the Examiner subscriber party, with special guest speaker Linden MacIntyre
We’re in the midst of the Halifax Examiner’s subscription drive. We do this every November, and towards the end of the month we have a party to thank our subscribers.
This year’s party will be on Sunday, November 25, from 4–7pm, at Bearly’s Tavern.
Linden MacIntyre, the former host of the CBC show The Fifth Estate, has graciously agreed to be our special guest speaker. We’ll also have musical guests, Examiner swag, cake, and other surprises.
Entry is free for all subscribers. Click here to subscribe.
The courts have published a decision by Justice Michael Wood related to the bankruptcy of OpenHydro, the company that installed two tidal-powered electrical turbines in the Minas Basin.
Wood’s decision is a routine order for a 30-day stay in the proceedings so OpenHydro can put together an offer to creditors. But the decision includes a remarkable recap of events, including this paragraph:
In July 2018 OpenHydro deployed two turbines in the Minas Basin near Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, as part of a demonstration project exploring the generation of electricity through tidal energy. By September 2018 the turbines had been damaged beyond repair and were incapable of generating electricity.
So far as I’m aware, this is the first public indication that both turbines had been destroyed by the tides. As I recall, all the government press releases and statements from Cape Sharp Tidal and the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE) have to date been along the lines of “oh, it was working fine, we just needed to take it out of the water for routine maintenance and the bankruptcy of OpenHydro is no reflection of the technology.”
(The tidal landscape at the Minas Basin: FORCE is a “tidal energy demonstration site” in the Minas Basin developed by the provincial government; there are five “berths” at FORCE that were offered for lease to private companies conducting tidal research. Cape Sharp Tidal was one of the four companies with leases; the fifth berth is unleased. Cape Sharp Tidal was a joint venture between OpenHydro and Emera, although with OpenHydro’s bankruptcy, Emera has washed its hands of the operation. OpenHydro was an Irish subsidiary of the French company Naval Energies.)
Reader Jordan Carlson tells me that my recollection is correct, and Wood’s decision is in fact the first public indication that the turbines failed.
Carlson is a grad student in Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University, his 2017 Master Thesis studied the tidal industry in Nova Scotia. The thesis is titled “Go Big or Go Away?” An Investigation into the Potential for Small-Scale Tidal Energy Development in Canada, and Factors that May Influence its Viability; it argues that in the pursuit of “utility-scale” tidal generation — those projects that generate more than .5 megawatts of electricity — the province has abandoned previous policies that, were they kept in place, would have encouraged more workable and realistic small-scale tidal generation projects. He goes on to suggest changes in policies and incentives that would make small-scale tidal work.
With regard to the utility-scale projects, he writes:
To-date, the vast majority of Canada’s tidal research has focused on devices designed for high-energy environments, and utility-scale generation capacities (i.e. devices with rated capacities ≥1 MW). However, recent studies have called into question whether this focus on utility-scale is likely to lead to continued successful deployments and industry growth.
For example, MacDougall (2015) considered the tidal energy deployment incentive programs of Nova Scotia using real options analysis. Using the case of the tidal energy development leases at the FORCE test site, MacDougall (2015) argued that from a financial investment perspective, the uncertainty and risks currently dominating the tidal sector make the cost of first-entry in the market significantly higher than the opportunity cost of delaying development. In other words, at the present level of industry development, utility-scale tidal deployment remains very (financially) risky for firms to pursue. Consequently, in the existing policy and investment climate of Nova Scotia, MacDougall (2015) suggests the most financially sound decision for tidal energy developers is to own the option to develop, but to delay development until uncertainty and risk in the industry are reduced.
The citation is to Shelley L. MacDougall’s 2015 paper, “The value of delay in tidal energy development,” in the journal Energy Policy. MacDougall’s abstract reads:
Despite robust research, prototype development and demonstration of in-stream tidal energy devices, progress to the commercialization stage has been slow. Some of this can be attributed to a lack of readiness or financing. However, when uncertainty is high, a developer may choose to delay a project until more is known. The option to delay has value for a company. This study applies the real option valuation model to an investment in a 10 MW array of in-stream tidal energy conversion devices at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, Canada. The values of investing and the option to delay are calculated. A sensitivity analysis of key drivers and scenarios with various input values to the option model are constructed to observe the impact on the ‘invest versus delay’ decision. The analysis suggests there is value in owning the option to develop, by leasing a FORCE berth, but waiting while uncertainty is resolved. Implications for policy-setting are discussed.
In fact, the other leaseholders at FORCE are doing exactly that — owning the option to develop by leasing a FORCE berth, but delaying development of actual tidal generation. The other leaseholders at FORCE are Black Rock Tidal Power (a subsidiary of the German firm Schottel Hydro), Minas Tidal Limited Partnership (owned by the Canadian International Marine Energy and Dutch Tocardo Tidal Power), and Atlantis Operations Canada Limited (owned by the British Atlantis Resources Inc. and the Irish DP Energy). Each has a lease, but none are actually deploying turbines.
Black Rock Tidal has permits to test a 280-KW floating platform, but that is significantly smaller than a “utility-scale” operation, and won’t be connected to the grid in any event.
3. Union issues
I’m in transit and can’t complete this item this morning. I’ll update later.
4. Plane crash
The CBC has an update on Flight GG 4854, which crashed at the Halifax airport Wednesday morning:
The plane was attempting to land on Runway 14, the shorter of the airport’s two runways. Ideally, a plane would land into the wind, said [Austin Adams, a senior operations investigator with the TSB]. Conditions Wednesday saw strong westerly winds of about 33 kilometres per hour, which Adams described as a crosswind with a tailwind component.
Investigators say it was the pilot’s request to use Runway 14. They cautioned against making assumptions about why or what role that might have played, noting all aircraft have certain limitations. Investigators will review what the certification was for the Sky Lease Cargo aircraft for landing with tailwind.
5. Pedestrians struck
A police release from yesterday:
A Halifax woman was charged for a collision with two pedestrians earlier today [Thursday].
At approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning, a vehicle turning left from Atlantic Street to Pleasant Street in Dartmouth struck two pedestrians who were crossing Pleasant Street. Both pedestrians, a man and a woman, were taken to hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
The driver, a 66-year-old Halifax woman, was issued a summary offence ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a cross walk.
“An industrial explosives company has pleaded guilty to an Occupational Health and Safety Act charge in connection with a 2016 blast at a quarry that sent rocks flying onto a Halifax apartment building more than a kilometre away,” reports Steve Bruce for the Chronicle Herald:
Dyno Nobel Canada Inc. admitted recently in Halifax provincial court that it failed to ensure there was sufficient relief for a trench blast at the Gateway Materials quarry in Kearney Lake on the afternoon of Sept. 19, 2016.
Rocks from the blast flew over the Bicentennial Highway and struck the Parkland Arms building at 390 Parkland Dr.
There were no injuries but rocks hit the roof of the Clayton Park building and smashed at least one window. One rock crashed through the roof and broke a sprinkler pipe, causing flooding in a handful of units.
Judge Michael Sherar accepted a joint sentencing recommendation for a $40,000 fine.
7. Drilling incident
The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board released the following “incident bulletin” yesterday:
High Potential Near Miss/Dropped Object
On November 5, 2018, ExxonMobil Canada Ltd (ExxonMobil) reported a near miss with respect to a dropped object on the Noble Regina Allen (NRA). The CNSOPB deployed a safety officer to the NRA early the following day to investigate and collect information about the incident.
The CNSOPB safety officer confirmed that a 52-foot chain, along with a swivel and shackle (a segment of lifting gear arrangement) with a combined weight of 225 pounds, fell to the deck in the derrick area. There were five workers in the area at the time but no one was injured. Although there were no injuries associated with this incident, it was determined that it had the potential for fatality, and has thus been classified as a high potential near miss. Ongoing work was immediately stopped, and the area was secured. A safety stand down was held with all involved personnel. Well operations remain suspended as of this time.
The NRA is currently located adjacent to the Venture platform carrying out the plugging of development wells as part of ExonMobil’s decommissioning and abandonment of the Sable Offshore Energy Project. The incident remains under investigation by ExxonMobil and by Noble Corporation, the owner of the NRA.
8. Zora Computing
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) has filed a $102,710.48 claim against Zora Computing, Inc.
ACOA extended a $96,846.59 loan to Zora on April 13, 2016; the claim represents that amount plus interest calculated since the loan defaulted on June 20,2017.
1. Remembrance Day
Stephen Archibald remembers Remembrance Day.
No public meetings.
Thesis Defence, Physics and Atmospheric Science (Friday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Chi Li will defend his thesis, “Trends and Sources of Atmospheric Aerosols Inferred from Surface Observations, Satellite Remote Sensing and Chemical Transport Modeling.”
The Fab Five: Cooperative C−H, C−S, C‑C, and C−O Bond Activation by Nickel(Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Samuel A. Johnston from the University of Windsor will speak.
$\rho$-orderings and valuative capacity in ultrametric spaces (Friday, 3pm, Room 227, Chase Building) — Anne Johnson will speak. Her abstract:
We present some basics facts on ultrametric spaces and show that several properties of valuative capacity, as defined on the integers, carry over naturally to compact subsets of an ultrametric space, $(M,\rho)$. We then give a recursive algorithm for computing the $\rho$-ordering of a compact subset $S \subseteq M$ and show how it can be used to calculate a $\rho$-ordering from the topology of $S$.
Bring your own $(M,\rho)$.
Subscription to Literary Periodicals as Evidence for an Intellectual History of Soviet Society, 1950s-1960s (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, Marion McCain Building) — Denis Kozlov will speak.
Our Place in the Universe (Friday, 7pm, Halifax Convention Centre) — Jason Kalirai will speak. Info and registration here.
In the harbour
06:00: Baltic Leopard, bulker, moves from anchorage to Pier 27
16:00: Giselle A, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Montreal
16:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Pier 36 for Saint-Pierre
17:00: Jinan, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Beaumont, Texas
17:00: Dalian Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
I’m watching my old stomping grounds in California burn up.