Monday, November 15, 2010

Tidal Power surges forward

Wind energy gets most of the attention on the renewable front these days, but a new generation of tidal energy technologies promise to generate environmentally-friendly flows of electricity in quantities that can be predicted decades ahead of time.

Not surprisingly, the Bay of Fundy region -- southern New Brunswick, the left side of Nova Scotia, and easternmost Maine -- is emerging as the leading test center for the industry worldwide; it has the world's largest tides, peaking at 50 feet at the head of Nova Scotia's Minas Basin (and still a healthy twenty feet on the Maine-New Brunswick border.) But what has surprised industry experts is that a Maine-based start-up has leapfrogged ahead of its older European competitors to become the forerunner in making the technology commercially viable.

I tell the story in this feature in the new issue of Down East, including the hopes its generating in Easternmost Maine, where F.D.R. intended to build the world's largest tidal project in the depths of the last Great Depression. (Unfortunately, the piece had to be cut for space at the last minute, so I'll likely be reporting some lost details in another venue.)

One programing note: hiatus complete, I'll be back in the magazine's Talk of Maine column next issue.

[Update, 11/15/10, 12:00: The government of Canada just announced it's investing $20 million in Nova Scotia's tidal energy test site.]

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