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/2006/08/14/9500297_Quebec_tidal/
You are here:
PureEnergySystems.com > News > Aug. 14, 2006

Northern Tidal Flows: Reliable New Power Source for Quebec?

This proposal involves tapping the lunar orbit, one of the largest “wheelworks of nature” to which humanity has access. Distance and climate challenges are obstacles, along with politics, cost and choice of transmission technology.

by Harry Valentine and Mary-Sue Haliburton
for Pure Energy Systems News

James Bay in summer 2000
The large reservoirs supply water for "James Bay I" which is also known as La Grande Riviere hydroelectric development. Reservoir Robert-Bourassa" represents attaching the name of the Quebec Premier to the body of water which on older maps is named "Reservoir La Grande Deux" (Second Big [River] Reservoir).

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Introduction

Hydroelectric power has long been the biggest source of electric energy in the Province of Quebec. Because building new mega-hydroelectric dams in Quebec has become a politically and environmentally sensitive issue, Quebec has chosen to encourage the development of wind-generated electric power as one of the clean alternative energy sources that could add the province's generating capacity.

The export of hydroelectric power from Quebec's James Bay mega-hydroelectric installations to the Northeastern United States earns a substantial amount of revenue for the Government of Quebec, as does re-selling power generated in Churchill Falls and purchased from the easternmost province Newfoundland and Labrador.

The mega-hydroelectric projects were expanded until Native groups and environmentalists voiced opposition, on the grounds that valleys and habitat for wildlife were being destroyed. They also raised the subject of mercury poisoning that typically occurs following dam construction. (Ref. 1) Noise from environmentalists in New York State resulted in a law being enacted that forbids the import of any new electricity that is generated at a mega-hydroelectric installation. That law compelled former Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau to cancel the hydroelectric mega-project that had been planned for RiviËre Grand Baleine (The Great Whale Project, also referred to as James Bay II).

Climate Change Threatens Hydroelectric Output

There is a risk that future weather patterns could reduce summer rainfall over the watershed region that supplies water to Quebec’s existing large dams.

Low rainfall during the summer droughts of 2003 and 2004 caused water levels to drop to near-critical levels in the reservoirs of Quebec's James Bay hydroelectric reservoirs. Climate change is believed to have been the cause of the reduced rainfall in parts of the Northern Hemisphere during those years. Therefore, developing alternate and complementary methods by which to generate electricity from renewable sources may soon become essential in Quebec. The region’s long-term economic future may depend on such development.

Present Constraints

The wind energy developments in Quebec will only be able to fulfill a very small percentage of future power demand. Power generated from wind is intermittent and occasionally unreliable.

Quebec has prided itself on generating electric power from clean, renewable and environmentally friendly sources of energy such as hydroelectricity and wind. The perceived will of the population of Quebec suggests a preference that any new electric power be generated from similar sources of energy. Options such as coal, natural gas or nuclear power have very limited popular support in Quebec. During an earlier period in Quebec's history and well prior to the nationalization of electric power by Quebec Energy Minister Rene Levesque during the early 1960s, coal-fired power stations actually did exist in Quebec and supplied a substantial amount of electric power.

The Oceanic Option: Harnessing the Moon

Technological developments are presently evolving in the field of generating electric power from ocean tides and ocean currents. There is a strong potential for this source of electric power generation to become cost-competitive with hydroelectric power while being more reliable than wind energy. Submersible water turbines are presently being tested in rivers and in offshore ocean locations in various parts of the world.

New York State has recently proposed to tap into that source of energy by installing tidal turbines in the Hudson River near New York City. (Ref. 2) A similar situation occurs on the St. Lawrence River at Quebec City (Lauzon) where the height of the river can fluctuate by as much as 15 feet as shown by an official Canadian government webpage on water levels and tides across the country. (Ref. 3)

The biggest ships that presently sail into the St Lawrence River have keel depths of up to 60-feet (18-m). The depth of the central channel of the river east of Tadousac, Quebec exceeds 200 metres. It may be possible to install marine turbines below the depth of ships' keels in the St Lawrence River and to the northeast of Matane, Quebec.

This technology could potentially become a future means by which a portion of Quebec's electric power may be produced in the future and become a complementary technology to gravity-based river-flow hydroelectric power generation.

Oceanic Power in Northern Quebec

The rotation of the earth causes the gravitational pull of the moon to pull an incredible volume of water from the North Atlantic Ocean through Hudson Strait and into the massive expanse of Hudson Bay. The result is that a very powerful current flows on the south side of Hudson Strait along the Quebec North Shore between Cap Hopes Advance and Cap de Nouvelle-France. Tidal (1) stations located along Hudson Strait provide hourly information about water height at various points in the strait.

The data from these tidal stations suggest that potential to generate electric power from ocean currents may also exist in the channel between the Northwest corner of Quebec and Nottingham Island. There may also be similar potential in the narrow and shallow channel between the eastern end of Charles Island and Cap de Nouvelle-France.

Ungava Bay
Location of strongest tidal flows are in the far north, approximately twice as far from the main population centres as the existing James Bay hydroelectric development.

Tidal tables provide information on duration of high tides and the direction in which the water is flowing. The incoming tide typically lasts for an average duration of 5 hours for every 12-hour cycle. Most of the receding tide flows on the north side of Hudson Strait; however, a portion of this returning tide, lasting between 2 and 4 hours in every 12-hour cycle, flows along a small section of coast in Northern Quebec.

The tables are based on data from tidal stations located west of Cap Hopes Advance. The tidal stations are located at: Diana Bay, Douglas Harbour, Deception Harbour, Sugluk and the tidal station at Port de Boucherville at the eastern end of Nottingham Island. The following tables provide information on rising tides.

Times and Heights (metres) of Rising Tides

 

Time of Day:

04:00

05:00

06:00

08:00

09:00

10:00

11:00

12:00

Diana Bay

0.7

1.7

3.6

5.8

9.3

9.6

Douglas Hbr

0.4

0.9

2.2

4.1

7.5

8.1

Deception Bay

0.4

0.4

1.0

2.1

3.4

4.5

5.2

5.3

Sugluk

0.4

0.9

1.8

3.0

4.2

4.9

5.1

P.d. Boucherville

0.1

0.6

1.5

2.6

3.7

4.3

4.4

Cap Hopes Advance to Cap de Nouvelle-France:

Diana Bay is located east of Douglas Harbour and both are located on Quebec’s North Shore between Cap Hopes Advance and Cap de Nouvelle-France. At the same time, the incoming tide rises to a higher level at Diana Bay than at Douglas Harbour and indicates a westward flowing current along this region of Quebec’s North Coast. The height differences provide a basis by which the speed of the current may be calculated (square of speed = gravity x 2 x height). At 4:00AM, the difference in height (0.7 – 0.4 = 0.3m) yields a speed of V = 2.4228-metres per second (square root (9.8 x 2 x 0.3). The difference in tidal height of 1.8-metres occurs from 8:00AM to 9:00AM and would yield a calculated maximum theoretical speed of 5.939-metres per second.

If a submerged turbine of 1000-square-metres “swept area” were located in this stream, its peak theoretical output at 25% efficiency would calculate to 26.8-Mw. The output at 4:00AM with a height difference of 0.3-m would calculate to 0.73-Mw at 10% efficiency (power = 0.5 x water-density/gravity x velocity cubed x efficiency). An undersea farm of submersible turbines could be located off the coast between Cap Hopes Advance and Cap de Nouvelle-France. The table below represents the typical maximum theoretical power output of a turbine of 1000-square-metre area over a 5-hour period:

 

Power of 1000-square metre turbine operating at 25% efficiency

Time

5:00AM

6:00AM

7:00

8:00

9:00

10:00

Height

0.8-m

1.4 m

1.7-m

1.8-m

1.8-m

1.5-m

Speed

3.96m/s

5.23m/s

5.77m/s

5.94m/s

5.94m/s

5.42m/s

Power

7.96Mw

18.4Mw

24.6Mw

26.8Mw

26.8Mw

20.4Mw

Potential of 124 Megawatt-hours per 12-hour cycle (2-cycles per day)

It may be possible to place up to 100 turbines in the coastal water between Cap Hopes Advance and Cap de Nouvelle-France and generate a total of 2 x 124-Mw-hr x 100 = 24800-Mw-hr per day (9-TWh per year). The selected locations must be deep enough allow pack and drifting ice to pass over the top of turbines secured to the ocean floor.

Northwest Quebec to Nottingham Island:

A channel of 35-km width is located between the northwestern corner of Quebec and Nottingham Island. Tidal stations are located at Port de Boucherville on Nottingham Island and to the east of the channel at Sugluk, Quebec. The following table gives data pertaining to height differences, water flow rates and power capabilities (of a turbine of 1000-square-metre swept area, 25% efficiency) in the channel that is estimated to have a depth of 150 metres.

 

Channel between Northwest Quebec and Nottingham Island

Time (AM)

6:00

7:00

8:00

9:00

10:00

11:00

12:00

Height

0.3-m

0.3-m

0.4-m

0.5-m

0.6-m

0.7-m

0.9-m

Speed

2.42m/s

2.42m/s

2.8-m/s

3.13m/s

3.43m/s

3.7-m/s

4.2-m/s

Power

1.82Mw

1.82Mw

2.81Mw

3.93Mw

5.17Mw

6.51Mw

12.7Mw

Strait*

35.8Gw

35.8Gw

55.2Gw

77.1Gw

102Gw

128Gw

186Gw

*This is the total power potential in the entire channel (620-Gw-hr over 7-hours).

Vertical-axis turbines built to heights and widths of over 100 metres may be possible and yield a swept area of 10,000-square metres. The power output of such a turbine would rise to 18.2-Mw in a stream that flows at 2.42-m/s. Up to 100 such turbines could be placed across the channel between Nottingham Island and the northwest corner of Quebec. An output of some 34000 MW/hr of power over a cycle of 5 hours would theoretically be possible, giving a daily output of 68,000 MW/hr of or 24.75 TWh of power per year (5.5% of the total potential in this channel). It may be realistic to convert up to 2% of the potential in the channel to useable power (9-TWh per year).

The Receding Current:

After the high tide period is complete, the tide recedes from Hudson Bay and Foxe Basin. Tidal stations as Sugluk and at Deception Bay (both located west of Cap de Nouvelle-France on the north coast of Quebec) reveal that a receding current occurs in this region. A receding current moves eastward along the north coast of Quebec and into a channel that lies between this coast and Charles Island. The eastern end of Charles Island is located directly north of the proposed tidal station at Deception Bay.

The channel cross-section decreases between Deception Bay and Cap de Nouvelle-France (narrower to 15-km and shallower to less than 50-m depth at the minimum cross-section north of Cap de Nouvelle-France). The decrease in channel cross-section could cause the current could to accelerate to a higher velocity at the minimum cross-section. However, the shallower water raises the risk of ice impacts on the turbines, so some measures may have to be developed to re-direct or break up any ice that could threaten the undersea generating facilities.

Data pertaining to the receding current is shown in the table below:

 

Eastbound Receding Tide toward Cap de Nouvelle-France

Time

13:00

14:00

15:00

16:00

17:00

Sugluk

3.8m

2.7m

1.6m

0.8m

0.6m

Dec.Bay

3.7m

2.4m

1.3m

0.7m

0.5m

Height

0.1m

0.3m

0.3m

0.1m

0.1m

Channel Entry Speed

2.42m/s

2.42m/s

1.4m/s

1.4m/s

*Max.Vel

2.8m/s

4.84m/s

4.84m/s

2.8m/s

2.8m/s

**Power

2.8-Mw

14.5-Mw

14.5-Mw

2.8-Mw

2.8-Mw

Potential per turbine of 37.4-Mw-hr over cycle of 5-hours

Time

00:00

01:00

02:00

03:00

04:00

05:00

Sugluk

4.9m

4.1m

3.0m

1.9m

1.0m

0.5m

Dec.Bay

5.0m

4.0m

2.8m

1.5m

0.7m

0.3m

Height

-0.1m

0.1m

0.2m

0.4m

0.3m

0.2m

Channel Entry Speed

1.4m/s

1.98m/s

2.8m/s

2.42m/s

1.98m/s

*Max.Vel

2.8m/s

3.96m/s

5.6m/s

4.84m/s

3.96m/s

**Power

2.8-Mw

7.94-Mw

22.5-Mw

14.5-Mw

7.94-Mw

Potential per turbine of 55.68-Mw-hr over 5-hours

Total Potential per Turbine: 93-Mw-hr per day or 0.0338-TWh per year.

*Max.Vel denotes maximum theoretical current velocity at narrowest point of channel.
**Power from counter-rotating vertical-axis turbine system that is 25-m high by 40-m wide (1000 square metres) operating at 25% efficiency. Channel has width of 15000 metres and depth under 50 metres. Up to 100-turbines in the channel could produce an annual output of up to 3.38-TWh.

The power that can be generated from ocean currents along the northern coast of Quebec can be added to the potential for tidal power that exists in Ungava Bay. A research group from British Columbia has done this tidal-power research on electrical power potential around the country’s long coastline. The Canadian Government’s Department of Natural Resources commissioned a study which highlights these northern locations as being among those with the greatest potential. (Ref. 4)

This energy is repeated, reliable, and occurs on schedule every day. The only drawback is that part of this capacity is highest when this part of the country is asleep.

Quebec has already in place an option for storing electric power generated during off-peak times from ocean currents, ocean tides and wind. This energy could be used to pump water into hydraulic storage at several existing hydroelectric dams where water has been in short supply lately due to apparent climatic shift in rainfall patterns. . This topped-up water supply can then be used to drive the existing turbines during peak hours.

If under drought conditions fresh water is insufficient, storing tidal electricity as hydraulic potential could involve taking salt water from James Bay to fill lower-level reservoirs.

No new land vegetation is likely to grow on the floor of the dams when they are full of fresh water or temporarily empty during periods of drought. Pumping ocean water into hydraulic storage would therefore maintain the existing conditions as far as vegetation is concerned. Freshwater fish in the rivers upstream may be affected to some degree if back-mixing of water occurs. However, if these rivers dry up due to extreme drought, fish die-off is likely to occur anyway.

The option of pumping ocean water into hydraulic storage during extended period of drought has the potential to keep large segments of the Quebec economy functioning, and help to support those of nearby states and provinces through export.

Icebergs:

The turbines between Nottingham Island and the northwest corner of Quebec may be installed so that their uppermost levels would be below the depth of icebergs that float overhead. A second alternative would be to use cables that are suspended from buoys and strung across the entrances to channels. The semi-submerged cable would be secured to land at both ends. Such cables may be used across the channels between Charles Island and Cap de Nouvelle-France as well as between Nottingham Island and the northwest corner of Quebec. The cables may be suspended at a depth that would simultaneously allow clearance for ships’ keels while restraining errant icebergs.

The cross-channel cables at Cap de Nouvelle-France may be used to restrain icebergs and as well as to maintain the locations of floating pontoons that suspended the turbines in the shallow channel. The turbines located between Cap Hopes Advance and Cap de Nouvelle-France would need to be installed below the bottom levels of icebergs. It will be necessary to study ice buildup, movement, and breakup patterns to avoid areas where unusual ice walls or pressure ridges that may extend below the average depth would be able to form. Monitoring would also be required to provide an alert if an unusual ice blockage is starting to occur, so that it can be dislodged in time.

Political Constraints:

The installation of ocean current turbines in Hudson Strait would require the approval of Canada’s federal government as well as the governments of Quebec and of Nunavut, as well as the James Bay and any more northerly First Nations. Submersible turbines that generate electric power from ocean currents may only be installed following successful negotiations amongst the differing levels of government. There is potential for power to be generated from ocean currents and ocean tides at various locations around Baffin Island, including at several locations in Hudson Strait.

Long Distance Transmission of Power:

The distance from the far northern coast of Quebec to the southern regions of the province may discourage development of the ocean power potential. The very rugged terrain of the pre-Cambrian Shield and the hostile climate in winter also raise the cost of installing and maintaining traditional long-distance electrical transmission lines. This cost as well as energy losses along the long-distance power transmission lines would be the predominant reason to discourage development of the project.

One option would be to install the turbines, and use the electricity to generate hydrogen that may be sent by ship to customers, and possibly sold to any new-generation ships which may be built to burn hydrogen in their engines.

Another option would be to undertake further development of a wireless long-distance power transmission technology. Small-scale versions of this technology already exist and have been used to transmit electric power between task-specific microwave dishes. Such a system would reduce dependence on vulnerable wiring, and line-of-sight towers could be located much farther apart on elevations of land, possibly reducing costs by lessening the quantity of materials required. (Ref. 5)

A more dramatic possibility exists for those who follow Nicola Tesla: wireless transmission employing charge separation. However, despite several attempts, Canadians have not been able to stickhandle this option past the political and financial barriers. (Ref. 6)

These new directions in transmission technology offer the potential of lower capital costs, lower construction costs and reduced energy losses over extreme distances such as exists between the north coast of Quebec and James Bay.

# # #


REFERENCES:

Ref. 1: Hudson Bay/James Bay Watershed Ecoregion - By means of nine dams and 206 dikes, the company diverted four major rivers into the mighty La Grande, flooding 7044 square miles of forested land. This was only the start of the damming and diverting of the rivers in the La Grande watershed, where another 38 dams and 461 dikes are still planned. Thus has begun the most massive and destructive engineering and river-replumbing scheme in history…

Ref. 2: Companies vie to install America’s first tidal energy plant - A report on the discovery channel showed a new type of slow-turning blades that would not damage fish proposed for the Hudson river.

Ref. 3: http://www.waterlevels.gc.ca/english/Canada.shmtl

Ref. 4: http://www.triton.ca - Click on the "Downloads" icon to obtain pdf document. P. 24 refers to

Ref. 5: http://www.mhi.co.jp/tech/pdf/e406/e406340.pdf

Ref. 6: Wireless Transmission: A Century of Power Politics Tussles Over "Free" Energy's Price Tag - Hidden political interests repeatedly block attempts to bring this energy-saving and cost-saving technology into being. How long will the drama continue before North Americans are able obtain access to that which Russians scientists have already achieved?


CONTACT:

Harry Valentine may be reached at <harryc {at} ontarioeast.net >


Feedback

Rance Tidal Power Station near St. Malo, France

On Aug. 22, 2006, New Energy Congress member, Jonathan Bonanno, wrote:

Tidal Power: from the source.

This James Bay project would be very good for Quebec and the American North East, as tidal energy is totally renewable and green. Blue Energy is a company out of Vancouver, Canada that is doing research and implementation of tidal energy systems.

Last week, I was at the Rance Tidal Power Station near St. Malo, France. The system has a maximum throughput of 18,000 m3/second! Built in 1961 - 1966, this facility is still cranking out power 4 times per day for 300,000 households. 24 bi-directional "bulb turbines" are at the heart of the energy production, which have been fitted with anode and cathode electricity voltage to prevent oxidation and equipment degradation.

What an amazing facility and visitor center (300,000 visitors/year), sponsored by EDF (French National Electricity)!?! 600 million kWh/year - all green and inexhaustible. There was some initial concerns from environmental groups about local fishery and habitat, which were studied intensely. All studies have revealed that Rance is a total success.


See also

Page poated by Sterling D. Allan Aug. 14, 2006
Last updated December 24, 2014


 
 

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