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Business

Changing of the Tides – How One Alberta Company Is Driving Hydrokinetic Power

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8 minute read

The energy conversation has been a polarized debate for years and continues to hit headlines. The clean energy industry is driven by forward-thinking individuals who have one common goal, transitioning from traditional energy sources to a more sustainable form of energy. Now in 2020, we have more oil than we know what to do with, an unprecedented amount of unused facilities that require cleanup, and jobs being lost daily. We exist in a time where competition drives innovation, demonstrating proof of concept is essential to drive investment and still, unable to see eye to eye for a common approach. Let me ask you this, is it problematic for us as a society to hold onto previous conceptions of clean energy projects, regardless of what type? 

Jupiter Hydro was founded in September 2010 by Co-CEO Ross Sinclaire in Calgary, Alberta. Their main focus is in-stream hydrokinetic power generation. Co-Ceo Bob Knight joined the team later in their development. If you have read into hydropower in the past, you may be aware of this type of power generation. Jupiter Hydro has taken the benefits of traditional hydropower and combined their unique technology to produce a far more cost-effective and sustainable form of hydrokinetic power generation. 

Like any new technology that works to produce power in a non-traditional method, Jupiter Hydro has gone through three phases over a decade that has brought them a unique opportunity in Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy scheduled for later in 2020. Beginning with testing their hypothesis, proving the theory of generating rotational power utilizing an Archimedes screw presented to fluid flow at an angle was tested in an irrigation channel. With promise in their theory, they move to test their methodology developed to quantify produced power was developed using a rudimentary test tank and 3D printed screws. Mounting systems were developed and fabrications were created with cost-effective materials. In 2012, testing at the University of Calgary’s test tank began to quantify torque characteristics and confirmed blade pitch and presentation characteristics. Both the horizontal orientation and longitudinal orientation of the screw were tested, giving insight into a highly effective angle for their Archimedes screw.

Open Water Testing

Crucial for any proof of concept in hydrokinetic power generation, Jupiter Hydro began their open water testing in 2013 in the Fraser River in BC. Early tests allowed discrepancies to be addressed with submerged generators and confirmed scalability for the technology for the team. Their second open water test addressed the longitudinal placement of their Archimedes screw while testing a swing arm in open water. With support from the Canadian Hydrokinetic Turbine Test Center, they had their third and fourth test at the facility to demonstrate the technology to identify flow clearances for their swing arm. They recorded nearly 50% efficiency and formed the basis of their current design for the upcoming Bay of Fundy project.

 

Defining In-Stream Hydrokinetics

In-stream hydrokinetics can be defined as harnessing the natural flow of water to provide rotational power. “In-stream” means that no containment or diversions are required, meaning that obstruction of the water flow is not required; be it a river, dam outflow, canal, or tidal flow. No dams or penstocks are required, and water flow is not restricted. If we consider that there are over 8500 named rivers in Canada according to the WWF, with the addition of ocean currents or any source of flowing water, the resources are huge for this technology. 

Key Innovation

If we visit the pros and cons that have been put on traditional hydro, we tend to lie on the outstanding cons that have given the industry a black eye over the last decade. As mentioned previously, competition drives innovation, to which Jupiter Hydro has adapted previous technology with a new methodology to produce a new in-stream power generation. Through multiple test phases and focusing on being cost-effective, they have created patented technology to produce power utilizing the 2,000 year old Archimedes screw with a pitch of 60% of the diameter and angled at 30 degrees to the flow to produce high torque power from the in-stream flow. Traditionally, hydropower would require a permanent infrastructure and there is a risk for large scale remediation. Jupiter Hydro does not require any permanent infrastructure and thus they do not require any remediation from environmental disturbance. 

Environmental Impact

With the majority of power generating technologies, lowering the environmental impact can be one of the prominent challenges even for clean energy. If we address the main environmental concerns with hydropower, it consists of concerns of remediation of land, impacts on fish, sourcing of materials, and noise pollution. Jupiter Hydro has effectively addressed these concerns with mitigating the risk for potential investors and the societal impact of driving clean energy into the future. They have the ability to provide remote sites with dependable power without the need for extensive shore infrastructure or changes to the channel flow. The technology can provide clean power in areas historically powered by diesel generators or bio-mass. Their system in rivers can provide “base line” dispatchable power, one of the key requirements for a 100% renewable energy system. 

Bay of Fundy Project

On July 3, 2019 Jupiter Hydro Inc. was granted a 2 MW demonstration permit and Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in the Bay of Fundy by the Nova Scotia Government. This area has seen other tidal power companies like Cape Sharp Tidal and Minas Tidal and have attempted to crack into the Bay of Fundy’s 2,500-megawatt potential. The terms for Jupiter Hydro is for three sets of 5 years, totaling a 15-year project to be launched later in the year. In the image below you can see their in-stream hydrokinetic tidal platform that will be used in the 2 MW project.

Due to issues relating to the ongoing pandemic, the date of this project remains currently unknown. We look forward to future updates from Jupiter Hydro and their success in the Bay of Fundy. Nova Scotia hit a milestone last year for reaching 30% of its energy produced by renewable sources. They continue to be a key driver for this industry.

“Energy that doesn’t cost the earth”

If you would like to learn more about Jupiter Hydro, check out their website here.

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary

(This article was originally published on May 4, 2020.)

Economy

Prime minister’s misleading capital gains video misses the point

Published on

From the Fraser Institute

By Jake Fuss and Alex Whalen

According to a 2021 study published by the Fraser Institute, 38.4 per cent of those who paid capital gains taxes in Canada earned less than $100,000 per year, and 18.3 per cent earned less than $50,000. Yet in his video, Prime Minister Trudeau claims that his capital gains tax hike will affect only the richest “0.13 per cent of Canadians”

This week, Prime Minister Trudeau released a video about his government’s decision to increase capital gains taxes. Unfortunately, he made several misleading claims while failing to acknowledge the harmful effects this tax increase will have on a broad swath of Canadians.

Right now, individuals and businesses who sell capital assets pay taxes on 50 per cent of the gain (based on their full marginal rate). Beginning on June 25, however, the Trudeau government will increase that share to 66.7 per cent for capital gains above $250,000. People with gains above that amount will again pay their full marginal rate, but now on two-thirds of the gain.

In the video, which you can view online, the prime minister claims that this tax increase will affect only the “very richest” people in Canada and will generate significant new revenue—$20 billion, according to him—to pay for social programs. But economic research and data on capital gains taxes reveal a different picture.

For starters, it simply isn’t true that capital gains taxes only affect the wealthy. Many Canadians who incur capital gains taxes, such as small business owners, may only do so once in their lifetimes.

For example, a plumber who makes $90,000 annually may choose to sell his business for $500,000 at retirement. In that year, the plumber’s income is exaggerated because it includes the capital gain rather than only his normal income. In fact, according to a 2021 study published by the Fraser Institute, 38.4 per cent of those who paid capital gains taxes in Canada earned less than $100,000 per year, and 18.3 per cent earned less than $50,000. Yet in his video, Prime Minister Trudeau claims that his capital gains tax hike will affect only the richest “0.13 per cent of Canadians” with an “average income of $1.4 million a year.”

But this is a misleading statement. Why? Because it creates a distorted view of who will pay these capital gains taxes. Many Canadians with modest annual incomes own businesses, second homes or stocks and could end up paying these higher taxes following a onetime sale where the appreciation of their asset equals at least $250,000.

Moreover, economic research finds that capital taxes remain among the most economically damaging forms of taxation precisely because they reduce the incentive to innovate and invest. By increasing them the government will deter investment in Canada and chase away capital at a time when we badly need it. Business investment, which is crucial to boost living standards and incomes for Canadians, is collapsing in Canada. This tax hike will make a bad economic situation worse.

Finally, as noted, in the video the prime minister claims that this tax increase will generate “almost $20 billion in new revenue.” But investors do not incur capital gains taxes until they sell an asset and realize a gain. A higher capital gains tax rate gives them an incentive to hold onto their investments, perhaps until the rate is reduced after a change in government. According to economists, this “lock-in” effect can stifle economic activity. The Trudeau government likely bases its “$20 billion” number on an assumption that investors will sell their assets sooner rather than later—perhaps before June 25, to take advantage of the old inclusion rate before it disappears (although because the government has not revealed exactly how the new rate will apply that seems less likely). Of course, if revenue from the tax hike does turn out to be less than anticipated, the government will incur larger budget deficits than planned and plunge us further into debt.

Contrary to Prime Minister Trudeau’s claims, raising capital gains taxes will not improve fairness. It’s bad for investment, the economy and the living standards of Canadians.

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Business

Ottawa should end war on plastics for sake of the environment

Published on

From the Fraser Institute

By Kenneth P. Green

Here’s the shocker: Meng shows that for 15 out of the 16 uses, plastic products incur fewer GHG emissions than their alternatives…

For example, when you swap plastic grocery bags for paper, you get 80 per cent higher GHG emissions. Substituting plastic furniture for wood—50 per cent higher GHG emissions. Substitute plastic-based carpeting with wool—80 per cent higher GHG emissions.

It’s been known for years that efforts to ban plastic products—and encourage people to use alternatives such as paper, metal or glass—can backfire. By banning plastic waste and plastic products, governments lead consumers to switch to substitutes, but those substitutes, mainly bulkier and heavier paper-based products, mean more waste to manage.

Now a new study by Fanran Meng of the University of Sheffield drives the point home—plastic substitutes are not inherently better for the environment. Meng uses comprehensive life-cycle analysis to understand how plastic substitutes increase or decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by assessing the GHG emissions of 16 uses of plastics in five major plastic-using sectors: packaging, building and construction, automotive, textiles and consumer durables. These plastics, according to Meng, account for about 90 per cent of global plastic volume.

Here’s the shocker: Meng shows that for 15 out of the 16 uses, plastic products incur fewer GHG emissions than their alternatives. Read that again. When considering 90 per cent of global plastic use, alternatives to plastic lead to greater GHG emissions than the plastic products they displace. For example, when you swap plastic grocery bags for paper, you get 80 per cent higher GHG emissions. Substituting plastic furniture for wood—50 per cent higher GHG emissions. Substitute plastic-based carpeting with wool—80 per cent higher GHG emissions.

A few substitutions were GHG neutral, such as swapping plastic drinking cups and milk containers with paper alternatives. But overall, in the 13 uses where a plastic product has lower emissions than its non-plastic alternatives, the GHG emission impact is between 10 per cent and 90 per cent lower than the next-best alternatives.

Meng concludes that “Across most applications, simply switching from plastics to currently available non-plastic alternatives is not a viable solution for reducing GHG emissions. Therefore, care should be taken when formulating policies or interventions to reduce plastic demand that they result in the removal of the plastics from use rather than a switch to an alternative material” adding that “applying material substitution strategies to plastics never really makes sense.” Instead, Meng suggests that policies encouraging re-use of plastic products would more effectively reduce GHG emissions associated with plastics, which, globally, are responsible for 4.5 per cent of global emissions.

The Meng study should drive the last nail into the coffin of the war on plastics. This study shows that encouraging substitutes for plastic—a key element of the Trudeau government’s climate plan—will lead to higher GHG emissions than sticking with plastics, making it more difficult to achieve the government’s goal of making Canada a “net-zero” emitter of GHG by 2050.

Clearly, the Trudeau government should end its misguided campaign against plastic products, “single use” or otherwise. According to the evidence, plastic bans and substitution policies not only deprive Canadians of products they value (and in many cases, products that protect human health), they are bad for the environment and bad for the climate. The government should encourage Canadians to reuse their plastic products rather than replace them.

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