News

1. Announcing the Examiner subscriber party, with special guest speaker Linden MacIntyre

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.

2. OpenHydro

The abandoned tidal turbine. Photo: Cape Sharpe Tidal

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

Flight GG 4854. Photo: Halifax Examiner

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.

6. Blasting

“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 heavy lift ship Forte, carrying the Noble Regina Allen drilling rig, was anchored near McNabs Island in November 2017. Photo: Halifax Examiner

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.


Views

1. Remembrance Day

Photo: Stephen Archibald

Stephen Archibald remembers Remembrance Day.


Government

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

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, CC, 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.

Saint Mary’s

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


Footnotes

I’m watching my old stomping grounds in California burn up.

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

Join the Conversation

10 Comments

Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
Cancel reply
  1. Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge Michael Wood is wrong when he writes that two tidal turbines were deployed in July 2018, so I have some doubt about the accuracy of his statement that by September, both had been damaged beyond repair. One turbine was deployed in July and I was there to witness it. A statement today from Cape Sharp Tidal Inc. reiterates an earlier update the company issued on September 17 which said that the deployed turbine’s rotor was not turning. Today’s statement continues: “[A] team of former OpenHydro employees who had worked to restart environmental monitoring equipment on the turbine believed that an internal component failure in the generator caused sufficient damage to prevent the rotor from turning.”

    Today’s statement carefully avoids saying anything about the first turbine which was deployed in November 2016 and retrieved in June 2017. At the time, the company said it would be undergoing upgrades and repairs to its Turbine Control Centre.

    As a reporter who has been covering developments at the tidal test site since 2011, I’ve been frustrated over the years by the lack of information coming from Cape Sharp Tidal Inc., the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) and the Nova Scotia Departments of Environment and Energy. Their attitude seems to be the less the public knows (through the media) the better.

    Whether it’s possible to generate tidal power from the turbulent Minas Passage is still an open question. I would note here that the Nova Scotia government’s Marine Renewable Energy Strategy released in May 2012 when the NDP were in power was written (and beautifully, I might add) by Parker Donham who seems to have drunk quite a few glasses of Kool Aid as he composed it. I’m not being sarcastic when I say that it’s an inspiring document that is still well worth reading. https://energy.novascotia.ca/sites/default/files/Nova-Scotia-Marine-Renewable-Energy-Strategy-May-2012.pdf

    1. Bruce, I tried to get the documents submitted to the bankruptcy court but they weren’t available yesterday, and I’m out of town today, so I can’t say what, if anything, Woods based his statement on.

      Carlson’s thesis is an endorsement of tidal power. He believes in it and wants it to succeed. But he says (I’m paraphrasing) that the province has turned its back on the potential of more workable small-scale tidal operations in exclusive pursuit of utility-scaled tidal. As I read him, he’s not even opposed to the FORCE efforts, but says that the thought of big money return has blinded the decision-making. He cites the MRE strategy.

      I’m so old I remember when journalists past and former indicated when they had a pony in the race they were commenting on.

  2. Obdurate opposition to research and development of the energy potential of Fundy tides by so many self-proclaimed Nova Scotia “environmentalists” is beyond bewildering. They are fighting against an important potential solution to our most serious environmental threat.

    To state the blindingly obvious: fossil fuel use poses a imminent catastrophic threat to the planet and all its inhabitants. The Bay of Fundy produces massive amounts of energy that, if harnessed, could play a important role in replacing fossil fuel use, and heading off planetary disaster.

    Yet the individuals and companies pursuing this potential are constantly beset by witless naysayers: The turbines might kill some fish (as if climate change will not). Small scale development would be more beautiful (though vastly less effective in meeting the humanity’s insatiable energy needs).

    The Halifax Examiner constantly hands its megaphone to these latter day Ludds, without the slightest effort to understand the scientific or political rationale for learning how to put this energy to use at meaningful scale.

    Efforts to block research and development of tidal energy and the Halifax Examiner’s journalistic malpractice are equally reckless.

    1. No environmentalists that I know of are opposed to research into harnessing tidal power. The issue, as I see it, is that they are jumping past research and going straight to industrial scale installations. These large-scale units have been dropped into the basin with little or no research into their effects on the sea life that passes through the narrows where the tidal flows are strongest. The fact that the turbines have been destroyed within weeks of deployment also demonstrates that there needs to be a much slower approach taken.

  3. Thought people might be interested in this article from the Miami Herald regarding a new 24,000 seat soccer stadium and commercial development in Miami.

    http://amp.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/article220722340.html

    “We know Beckham and the Mas family will make money on this project, but we also believe they will go out of their way to be fair and just to this community and to the residents around the proposed stadium complex. Miami has been home to the Mas family for decades. It’s the place where their late patriarch Jorge Mas Canosa became a popular Cuban exile leader.

    Would we expect the same moral obligation from an outside developer who goes through the competitive bid process and wins? No.

    We believed Mas when he told the Board that no public money will be tapped and that taxpayers will not pay any of the costs associated with preparing Melreese for redevelopment, including necessary utility work, underground infrastructure, road improvements and a pedestrian bridge over the Tamiami Canal to connect the park to the Miami Intermodal Center, making it a new stop for visitors.”

    No public money, a committed local developer and a plebiscite yeah or nay for the people….oh and David Beckham.

    Somehow I doubt any of that will happen here.

    1. The population of the greater Miami-Dade area is about 2.75 million so a 24,000 seat stadium is pretty conservative. Plus the weather in that part of the world means you can basically use it all year round as opposed the maybe 6 months a stadium will be of use here.

  4. I know nothing about aviation, but two things stand out for me (and if someone can explain them, great). First, 33 km/h does not seem like a strong wind. Isn’t it regularly that windy around here? We start to get warning from Environment Canada when winds are in the area of gusting to 70 or 80 km/h. But 33? The other thing is that the runway safety area was shorter than the Transport Canada recommendations. I guess the key word here is “recommendation.” But if that’s how long they think it should be, shouldn’t they just make it part of the regulations that it needs to be 150 metres? Or is that something many smaller airports wouldn’t be able to achieve?

    1. Yeah, something doesn’t pass the smell test – as you say the conditions were unexceptional. There is no way of knowing but I find it hard to believe that it wasn’t pilot error or a mechanical issue with the aircraft. A quick bit of googling indicates that the normal landing speed of a 747 is about 330 km/h – so even with a 30 km/h tailwind requiring a 360 km/h landing to maintain lift that is still only 10% faster than normal.

    2. I think expanding the safety areas at HIAA would necessitate moving the Old Guysborough Road. As it stands the airport won’t even allow the Dept. Of Transport to put snow fencing up on troublesome sections that border the airport for fear the snow will have safety implications.