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New Brunswick awards leases to study Bay of Fundy tidal sites

The government of New Brunswick has awarded leases to Irving Oil Ltd. to explore the feasibility of tidal power development at 11 sites in Canada's Bay of Fundy.

Irving Oil, a regional refining and marketing company based in New Brunswick, will partner with Huntsman Marine Science Centre of St. Andrews for a two-year research program of potential power generating sites, all near the bay's north shore. The Bay of Fundy lies between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and is the site of the highest tides in the world.

Natural Resources Minister Donald Arseneault and Energy Minister Jack Keir announced the award May 26.

�This research will evaluate the potential for development of in-stream tidal power,� Arseneault said. �Information on the natural environment, climatic conditions, and the behavior of wildlife in these areas will also be collected to determine the suitability for development.�

Sites to be studied include Head Harbour Passage and Western Passage areas of Passamaquoddy Bay, the Cape Enrage area near Chignecto Bay, and the Cape Spencer area near St. John. Sampling and survey work will be conducted using equipment, most of which will be mounted on boats. Floating stationary sampling devices also will be deployed. Devices will be moored to bay's bottom for 30 days at a time.

A detailed baseline study program could be undertaken for areas that show the highest potential for tidal power generation. All 11 sites measure 25 hectares in size.

Irving Oil said it submitted the project in response to a request for proposals for tidal power research issued in January. The New Brunswick government issued the solicitation after releasing an interim policy on allocating crown lands for research in support of in-stream tidal power generation.

Irving Oil and Huntsman Marine Science Centre now have the right of first refusal to the sites once Natural Resources develops a final policy on allocating crown land.

Nova Scotia's government also is supporting development of tidal power generation in the Bay of Fundy. In January, it awarded a C$4.7 million (US$4.75 million) grant toward creation of North America's first in-stream tidal technology center, in Nova Scotia. (HNN 1/11/08)

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