Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Tidal power: clean energy from shallow waters

Placed in rivers or shallow water offshore, these turbines could help some isolated communities wean themselves off dirty diesel generators

1 of 10

A fishing boat heads out on the Bay of Fundy from Hall’s Harbour, N.S. The possibility of creating clean energy from tidal currents – in shallow water along the coast or in rivers – has captured the interest and investment of Canadian, American and European companies. They have made great strides in the small-turbine field that could potentially tap the power of tidal currents.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

2 of 10

In Vancouver, Christopher Gora, president of Clean Current Power Systems Inc., stands next to a model of one of the firm’s ocean turbines. Clean Current plans to place an ocean turbine next year near Digby, N.S., in the outer part of the Bay of Fundy.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

3 of 10

Here Mr. Gora stands in front of a turbine that has been designed to work in a river. He says small-scale tidal is the place to work out kinks with the machinery.

Clean Current Power Systems Inc.

4 of 10

A river turbine built by Clean Current Power Systems is readied for deployment in September in the Winnipeg River, which flows from the Lake of the Woods in Ontario to Lake Winnipeg.

Clean Current Power Systems Inc.

Story continues below advertisement

5 of 10

This shallow location is ideal for testing a small machine and requires far lower capital costs compared with deep water with powerful currents. ‘With smaller sizes, everything is easier and cheaper and faster,’ Mr. Gora says.

Clean Current Power Systems Inc.

6 of 10

In Maine, an American-made tidal turbine is readied for installation in Cobscook Bay, near the New Brunswick border last year. At 30 metres wide and nine metres high, the TidGen turbine built by Ocean Renewable Power Co. is very different from its competitors and looks rather like a massive push lawn mower.

Ocean Renewable Power Co.

7 of 10

ORPC’s TidGen turbine generator unit just prior to installation in the water. Its yellow bottom frame supports grey turbine generator units on top.

Ocean Renewable Power Co.

8 of 10

ORPC’s turbines can also be used in rivers, where they could produce electricity for communities that currently rely on diesel generators. A test is planned for a site in Alaska, and the company hopes to deploy its turbines in Florida as well.

Ocean Renewable Power Co.

9 of 10

Sea trials of a tidal turbine – which looks like a big propeller – in waters off the Netherlands this summer. This system is made by the Dutch firm Tocardo International BV, which has recently opened an office in Halifax. The Canadian operation will explore the turbine market in Canada, the United States and South America.

Pieter de Haas/Tocardo International BV

10 of 10

The Tocardo turbines can function in rivers, estuaries, or tidal currents. This one has been in place in Den Oever, The Netherlands, since 2008, where it is suspended in the sluice gate of a dike. It is connected to the power grid and generates electricity for about 15 households. To read more about tidal power, look for the link below to this story – Small-scale energy projects may turn the tide.

Pieter de Haas/Tocardo International BV

Report an error
Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.