CSI Causeway could be opened up for tidal power

Greg Bennett
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An aerial view of the Cape Sable Island Causeway

Municipality of Barrington file photo

By Greg Bennett

For more than 60 years the Cape Sable Island Causeway has separated Barrington Passage and that important link has stopped the natural flow of water in the passage.

That could change as Barrington Municipal Council meets with tidal generation experts in coming months to examine if the causeway, built in 1949, could be opened to allow water to flow through the passage once again, and generate electricity at the same time.

During a Monday, March 10 meeting, councillors listened to a presentation from Mark Sidebottom, of Nova Scotia Power, on the status of renewable resource energy projects in the province.

While the province is no longer accepting Community Feed-In-Tariff applications for large biomass and wind projects, Sidebottom said there might be an opportunity to utilize the program for tidal power generation.

Sidebottom said Nova Scotia Power would find an expert to answer the municipality’s questions on the energy generation potential of the causeway and the feasibility of a future project.

Sidebottom said the generation of tidal power right now is two or three times more expensive than the generation of wind power, but said the technology is improving due to continuing research and development.

He said they would be able to arrange an expert to look at the site within a matter of weeks.

“We would know three or four people with that type of experience,” he said.

He cautioned that the causeway may or may not be an appropriate site for energy generation.

“The question as to whether that is the right site, will require a developer who really knows that tidal type of regime,” he said.

Opening the causeway to allow water to flow once again could have an added benefit as councillors believe the continued growth of a nearby sand spit might be halted.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Power, Barrington Municipal Council

Geographic location: Barrington Passage

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Recent comments

  • Ron Fry
    May 24, 2016 - 22:01

    Do me a favor...ask Council why my letter almost 2 months ago has never been brought up concerning a letter of support concerning The Causeway Beach. I have been researching the shoreline regime since 1987 and even made an attenpt to get the Causeway removed almost 20 years ago. Kathy Johnson knows who I am. The Causeway Beach is a Protected Beach under The Beaches Act. Opening the Causeway will destroy that Protected Beach. The Beaches Act will prevail. The Causeway Beach is the Fastest Growing Beach in Nova Scotia.....let it Grow!!! By the time they make a decision it ...the beach will have made contact with the Causeway long before a Tidal Project will get approval. Not in my lifetime will I see it. The Beach is less than 100 feet from touching The Causeway....go figure. If you want a copy of my letter from 2 months ago...let me know. You will find it very informative.

  • robert
    November 10, 2014 - 06:43

    I know last week there was a big title generating business opportunity meeting in Halifax was anybody there to represent Shelburne County

  • jim
    March 18, 2014 - 13:39

    i can see -a- way to make it work, but just sticking a turbine in the causeway won't get much. i'd say, build another causeway between bear point and newellton. the new one would have a road on a small bridge above locks, which let the boats out... large vents to allow water in, that close when the water tries to flow out, check valves basically. it'd be a new reservoir, filled to high tide levels twice a day, letting it drain through turbines slowly on the old causeway for continuous power. if it's drained slowly enough, it would last all day, as a one way salt water river, pretty much forever, and it'd clean out the sand... pity there's no geomorphologists around to ask about it...

  • Ginger Walker
    March 18, 2014 - 12:15

    Been saying for years that an opening is needed to let the water flow through

  • Ron Fry
    March 18, 2014 - 11:03

    The late Albert Perry, from Barrington is the only known person to have ever recorded the hydraulic current in the Barrington Passage. The flood tide was 10 knots and the Ebb current was 14.....sand was always confined to the Barrington Bay side of the channel because of that reason. With the closure of the channel in the spring of 1949...the movement of sand travels from the bayside to the bayhead.. Personally speaking...they are running out of time as the Beach located at North East Point Beach is rapidly getting closer to the mainland as the water depth decreases within the channel. I have a degree in Coastal Geomorphology from Saint Mary's University and did a research paper on the Causeway which can be found in the Public Archieves in Halifax.