Home 9 Industrial & Marine 9 The Tide Is High – Why Good Connections are Necessary in Business and at Sea

The Tide Is High – Why Good Connections are Necessary in Business and at Sea

In mid-November 2023, a decommissioned tidal turbine barge washed up on the shores of Nova Scotia in Eastern Canada. The abandoned hulk hung upon the rocks, leaving licence only to cormorants and puffins to take a berth upon her deck.  This was an unfortunate end to an ambitious enterprise by tidal energy start-up, Sustainable Marine Energy (SME).  SME had just six months prior pulled up anchor and left the Bay of Fundy citing bureaucracy and obstructionism on the part of the Canadian Department of Fisheries. Now having declared bankruptcy, the innovative blue tech business headed home, leaving its tidal turbine gear moored at Westport Harbour on Brier Island, Nova Scotia. 

There is A LOT of energy stored in the ocean. SME had hoped to harness the highest, strongest tides on the planet. With an estimated 7,000 Megawatts of kinetic energy potential in the Minas Basin alone, the field of tidal energy (or more broadly, current energy conversion) is a golden opportunity for the right organisation with the right pieces in place.    

But the fate of SME, although perhaps considerably disappointing to investors (the company lost $30-40 US million according to its CEO), was a sobering lesson for other tidal power companies. When entering a marine environment, whether at the helm of a ship or into the world of ocean renewables, it is essential that you have an experienced crew aboard. Enginuity Inc. is an integral crew member to several such firms.

From designing a mooring system for a wave powered desalination system, to a transmission assembly for Littoral Power Systems Inc., Enginuity brings peace of mind to the mission. The example of the hydrokinetic turbine breaking loose is a case in which many questions had obviously not been answered. The ocean is powerful. It is one thing to moor your sailboat for the afternoon in a sheltered cove whilst cruising, but it’s quite another story to reliably moor a tidal turbine system.

Additionally, it must be dependable, require minimum maintenance, have a long life and above all else, it must withstand the most powerful tidal forces on earth pulling in multiple directions.  The team at Nova Scotia’s Enginuity Inc. comprises a team of lifelong sailors and even boasts a retired naval officer among its ranks. The proximity and kinship to the ocean gives rise to immense respect for the power of the sea. It is here respect and innovation combine. 

Water Power for Good

Littoral Power Systems is a brilliant organisation whose mantra “Water Power for Good” (or #WP4G) is a testament to the mission they have undertaken, the mission to better communities and the environment. By addressing the obstacles of cost, environmental impact and regulatory complexity in ocean energy, LPS propels the renewable energy sector forward.  It is no wonder the two organisations would soon find themselves getting their feet wet off the coast of Alaska.  Enginuity was tasked with creating a device to couple the generator and the turbine in an energetic tidal strait in southeast, Alaska. From an engineering standpoint, the assembly had to accommodate reversing tidal currents. Yet beyond the obvious mechanical profile of the device, there are a number of considerations integral to the engineering and design.  

Accessible only by float plane or the occasional barge, the tie site is near a remote community. As such, the assembly would have to be easily maintainable using only simple tooling and support vessels. Periodic inspections would be required, but only one component of the assembly would ever need to be changed, and that would be only every two years.  

In many cases, the assemblies are moored to the seabed, as is the case with wave powered desalination venture Oneka Technologies. The team at Oneka were acutely aware of the risks, and so brought in the Enginuity Industrial and Marine team led by former Lieutenant Commander, José Alberti Angulo. 

System designers often focus just on their piece of the puzzleIt’s important to think about every link in the chain, every component in a complex system and understand how they will interact. As we implement these new technologies, it is important that we maintain the diligence needed to safeguard the assets and the communities in which they’re located.” 

Industrial and Marine Innovation with Enginuity Inc.

Industrial and Marine Innovation with Enginuity Inc.

All pioneering industries have growing pains. Future marine renewable and ocean sector tech companies will learn from the lessons offered by the unfortunate end of Sustainable Marine at Brier Island.  

The new and exciting foray into ocean renewables must still adhere to the fundamentals of maritime industry and remember that one is only as strong as their weakest link. In order to propel ourselves to a new cleaner future, we must assemble a crew who have the legs for the job.  

Littoral Power Systems CEO David Duquette states, “Enginuity does superb work, accomplishes it rapidly and thoughtfully, and provides excellent value.  Their professionalism, attitude, and overall ease collaborating in a group setting is exactly what we look for when selecting an engineering services firm.”  With so many collective decades at sea, the crew at Enginuity is happy to share the helm whether the seas be rough or calm. 

Enginuity at a glance

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