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25 August 2008

driveby on today's cruise along the southwest coast of Nova Scotia / PIZZAQ: What's the Down Side of wind turbines?

Click, que sera, sera

I'd heard rumors this Thing existed;
it was right off the highway I cruised from Halifax to Yarmouth today. Next trip to Nova Scotia, I'll make a point of seeing it. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick claim to have the world's biggest tide differentials (water height difference between High and Low), and near the coast, some narrow rivers have a phenomenon called the Tidal Bore -- once a day the river reverses direction, and rowboats/canoes/kayaks can get a free ride several miles Upstream. Neat trick.

Some claim the tides at Inchon, in Korea (site of a famous military landing invasion during the Korean War), rival the tides of the Bay of Fundy.

Well, if ever North America is going to get its ass in gear to use Tidal Power to generate electricity, this is the time and the Bay of Fundy is the place. There's no such thing as a Free Lunch, and environmentalists don't like the disruption in coastal ecologies they believe damming tides causes.

Alternative Options include Oil, Coal, and Plutonium (half-life on the order of 100,000 years). Where's the fun in getting electric power without superpower wars and ionizng radiation catastrophes? Where's the fun in that? Do you want to live forever while watching the Beijing Olympics on your new hi-def giant screen?

If you are a regular reader of Vleeptron, you will have already suspected that Little Bobby has a very unhealthy lust for Weird Machines.

PizzaQ: There's a naughty little secret associated with the promise of electricity generated by Wind Power. For 3 slices, what's the Down Side of electric wind turbines?


The Annapolis Royal Generating Station
is an 18-MegaWatt tidal power plant located on the Annapolis River immediately upstream from the town of Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada. It is the only tidal generating station in North America.

{There's one other I know about at the mouth of a river in France.]

The generating station harnesses the tidal difference created by the large tides in the Annapolis Basin, a sub-basin of the Bay of Fundy. Opened in 1984, the Annapolis Royal Generating Station was constructed by Nova Scotia Power Corporation, which was at the time a provincial government Crown corporation that was frequently used to socially benefit various areas in the province.

Tidal harnesses to generate electricity had been under discussion for the Bay of Fundy and its various sub-basins for several decades. The decision to build the Annapolis Royal facility was partly prompted by the promise of federal funding for this alternative energy project, as well as the provincial Department of Transportation's requirement to replace an aging steel truss bridge over the river between Annapolis Royal and Granville Ferry.

The resulting rock-filled dam carries Trunk 1 across the river, as well as housing the power house and sluice gates.

The project has had mixed results. While effectively generating electricity, the dam across the river restricting water flow (to allow the tidal difference to accumulate every 6 hours) has resulted in increased river bank erosion on both the upstream and downstream sides.

The dam has also trapped marine life, including a case in August, 2004 when a mature Humpback whale swam through the open sluice gate at slack tide, ending up trapped for several days in the upper part of the river before eventually finding its way out to the Annapolis Basin (it was nicknamed "Sluice").

The body of an immature Humpback whale was discovered in spring 2007 near the head of tide in the river at Bridgetown. A post-mortem was inconclusive but suggested the whale had become trapped in the river after following fish through the sluice gates.

A new Fundy tidal energy project is underway, using submerged tidal stream generators. Using a variety of different technologies, the project is expected to be operational in 2010.


Jim Olson said...

Some claim that wind turbines are bad for migratory birds, and for raptors. The noise and vibrations of the blades in the wind distract or disorient the birds, and they sometimes get hit by the blades.

Shane said...

And not to mention us lonely humans don't want the wind turbines in their backyards because of the noise.
Living in the area which you have posted about, the cost of fossel fuels is increasing every year and also having wind turbines in two areas of the southern part of the province. (Digby Co, Pubnico)
I think more investment should be put in alternative power. Namely wind.

Vleeptron Dude said...

Hey hey hey Shane --

Wow, I must be just a couple of blocks away from you right now. I'm at the hotel just across the street from the CAT ferry, heading back to Portland Wednesday. Drop on by and look for the goofy geezer with a green army-style backpack, a laptop, and a brand new haircut I just got today on Main Street.

Arden's adorable! Say hi to him for me!

This is the third time I've been in Yarmouth and I've really come to enjoy it. Everyone's so real and hospitable and friendly.

When I take trains through Germany I pass big windfarms. Knowing they're not generating nuclear waste with a 100,000 year half life, or belching black unbreathable sulfur and greenhouse gasses -- well, I think they're downright pretty. Like Dutch windmills as a beloved image of the past, I think windfarms are a beautiful image of the future -- picture postcards from 2050 (I hope).

I think I'll make a special trip here again to visit the Annapolis Royal tidal plant. Have you seen it? What's the local gossip about it? And with all these spectacular Fundy tides, why aren't there 6 more tidal plants???

What's Lobaws?

Vleeptron Dude said...

Oh -- check out a new post

about a new Weird Thing about wind turbines.

They're still a hell of a lot better than plutonium and unbreathable air and global warming. (I've seen the polar bears in Churchill, maybe in their last years in the wild.)

Vleeptron Dude said...

Oh, for dinner tonight I just had my very first Rappie Pie! It was DELICIOUS! Send me a recipe SVP!

Mavilette looks gorgeous!

Shane said...

Loblaws -Atlantic superstore is one of their chains located in Yarmouth.

also the best grocery retailer in Canada.

Been to the tidial Plant in the middle 80's.

Vleeptron Dude said...

Hey hey Shane!

Okay, well, good old Wikipedia came to the rescue at the lobby computer at the Colony in Yarmouth, and told me that Loblaws = Atlantic Superstore.

I resupplied at the Superstore in Halifax next to the train station, and was very impressed with the store, and of course the helpfulness of the friendly staff. Got a very tasty-looking ready-made cold cut sandwich and packed it away to eat on the drive to Yarmouth.

But just never got hungry so I didn't eat it. At the Colony that night I turned on the CBC and learned about the listeria outbreak -- nobody said anything about the Superstore, but they showed mugshots of ready-made cold cut sandwiches, one of the suspected culprits in the Maple Leaf meatpacker food-poisoning outbreak. I disposed of the sandwich promptly.

I always love spending time in Yarmouth. I like Toots, great candy selection, and they had some Spongebob playing cards, a real find! (My faves are Sandy the Squirrel, who has to visit her pal Spongebob in a diving suit, and Gary the Snail -- "Meow!")

The Canadian biologist Suzuki, on his great TV show "The Nature of Things," had some bad stuff to say about Quebec Hydro, the super-ambitious electric generating project of Quebec's (formerly) wild rivers. Q Hydro damaged huge tracts of swamp/bog/wetland, which Suziki says are very important "Slow Exchange" systems for atmospheric gasses -- as important for a healthy atmosphere as the tropical rain forests, the "lungs of the world."

Quebec Hydro supplies surplus electricity to my New England, and prices it just a penny or two per megawatt below what electricity generated from nuclear plants would cost New England. So there hasn't been a new nuclear power plant built in New England for decades, Quebec Hydro makes nukes a money-loser for the financial market.

Merci, Quebec Hydro! Mais SVP be a little more gentle to the swamps and bogs!