Increased future demand for electric power from both Eastern Canada as well as the American Northeast would require Eastern Canadian power producers to plan new electric power stations. Quebec and Labrador (Newfoundland) earn a substantial amount of revenue from cross-border electric power sales. Canada's commitment to generating carbon-free electric power now opens the door to the development of a multi-megawatt tidal power station in Northeastern Canada. The mega-sized ocean inlet would include Hudson Bay, Ungava Bay, the Hudson Strait and the Foxe Basin. All together they may serve as the basis for the mega-tidal power station. Several additional smaller ocean tidal power stations may also be built in this region along the Ungava Bay and Atlantic coasts.
The 150-ft deep Fury and Hecla Strait (70N, 85W) which separates Baffin Island from the Melville Peninsula would be the northwest end of the tidal mega-reservoir. This strait would need to be sealed by using land bridges that connect one or more of the mid-channel islands to Baffin Island and Melville Peninsula. The bridges may be built mainly from rocks and boulders and use new evolving construction technologies that enable structures to endure harsh environments that include winter pack ice and encounters with ice bergs. Similiar pioneering technology has been applied to the Confederation Bridge in Eastern Canada and is planned for the proposed Bering Strait super bridge. The entrance to Hudson Strait is located between Resolution Island and Cape Chidley (at 65W, between 61N and 62N) would also be the eastern end of the tidal mega-reservoir.
An oceanic topographic map reveals that Resolution Island is the peak of an oceanic mountain that protrudes from the sea. It gradually slopes southward below water level for a considerable distance into the main waterway, toward Cape Chidley and the Button Islands. Most of this 60-mile distance is shallow, perhaps less than 150-ft deep. A narrow central deep channel is estimated at near 600-ft. To the west of Resolution Island, most of the 25-mile waterway to southeastern Baffin Island is also shallow with a narrow deep central channel. A land bridge built between these two islands would redirect tidal changes to flow into the mega-inlet south of Resolution Island.
Evolving technology could move the enormous amounts of material needed to build the land bridges. Boulders and rocks from the MacKenzie Mountains in North western Canada could be transported on multiple barges tied together and pulled through the North-west passage by single super tug-boats. Climate change and global warming is having a noticeable effect in Northern Canada and would make for potentially easier future ship navigation through the artic waterways. A portion of the material needed for project construction could be excavated from existing Eastern Canadian ocean inlets, bays, fiords and sounds, increasing their size (area) and raising their potential to generate tidal electricity for use in either local markets or for re-sale into the grid.
An extended southern breakwater would need to be built from Resolution Island, on its southern sub-oceanic slope that extends for almost half the distance into the eastern entrance of Hudson Strait. The narrow deep channel north of the Button Islands could be filled rocks and boulders and made shallower. A gated waterway may need to be included in this area to enable ship traffic to sail to/from Churchill, Manitoba. The main power generation site would be located close to Cape Chidley, including between the Button Islands. A reduced cross-section at the power generation area would increase water velocity through the submerged bi-directional turbines, thus raising their efficiency. As water flowrate declines toward the end of each generating cycle, gates to some turbines may be closed so as to enable higher water velocity to flow through the active turbines.
The turbines would be underwater windmills of either vertical axis design or axial-flow design using reversible blade settings. Tidal water rises to an average height of 16-feet in Ungava Bay and to an average height of 9-inches in the much larger surface area of Hudson Bay and Foxe Basin. While the lack of height will reduce water pressure, the sheer size of the reservoir allows for a very high volume flow rate (pressure x volume flow rate = power). The exchange of this water volume with the North Atlantic could yield some 24,000-Mw to 34,000-Mw of potential power from each of the four daily 6-hour duration tidal changes. The submerged turbines could convert 15% to 25% of the tidal energy into 3,600-Mw to 8,500-Mw of electric power.
A mega-tidal power station would deliver power in response to tidal changes and on tidal schedules, including at times when market demand for electricity is low. Several hydro-electric dams in Eastern Canada and the Northeastern United States will have to be modified so that water could be pumped uphill, to store energy for use during later periods of higher power demand. The technology to achieve this exists and is well proven. Energy from smaller tidal power installations and wind farms located in Northeastern Canada (Ungava region) and Northeastern United States can also be fed into such hydro-electric dams, possibly minimizing power fluctuations on the main intercity power grid.
In recent several years, changing weather conditions have reduced water levels in numerous hydroelectric dams in Eastern Canada, including in Quebec's James Bay region. The extra available storage capacity in such hydro-dams would complement the power generation schedules of a mega-tidal power station. Quebec allocating of public funds to build power projects may be a practice of the past. The Montreal Economic Institute which is a free-market think tank had previously advised the Quebec government to abandon the regime of state ownership and state control over electric power generation, favouring a private power market operating free from government economic regulation.
Economic conditions presently require the Quebec government to practice fiscal restraint and reduce state expenditures. Previously, large amounts of public funds were allocated to build the James Bay hydroelectric power projects. Quebec's government recently contracted with private companies to build wind farms that sell electric power exclusively to Quebec's state-owned power utility. This may indicate that the Quebec government may be willing to take the initial steps toward the eventual privatization and deregulation its state-owned power industry. If future bank rates return to market levels within the next decade and remain there for an extended time period, the private sector may be able to accurately determine the feasibility of building a northern mega-tidal power project and accurately determine its potential longterm viability.
A consortium of private companies may ultimately have to build the Northern Canadian mega tidal power station on private funding. The project would require negotiations with several levels of government. Canada's federal government has jurisdiction over the northern waters, the government of Quebec has territory closest to the power generation site, and the government of Nunavat has jurisdiction over locations between which land bridges and from which a breakwater would need to be built.
The land bridges that are proposed to connect Nunavat's mainland to Baffin Island and indirectly to Resolution Island could become a transportation link. The spaces between rocks and boulders used in bridge construction could provide habitat for various marine species that form part of the northern artic food chain. Residents of Nunavat’s coastal communities directly and indirectly depend on the marine artic food chain as their main source of protein. If the project can provide some benefit for Nunavat residents, it is possible that both the Federal and Nunavat governments may allow the project to go ahead, including the critical extended breakwater that will need to be built on the southern slope of the undersea mountain south of Resolution Island.
Even if the project were technically possible and economically feasible, various government-related obstacles may still be problematic. Canada's foreign ownership and investment regulations could stall the project. However, federal officials whose actions scuttle the project could risk provoking a referendum that could result in an independent sovereign Quebec. Hopefully, officials from Quebec will not attempt to exploit a private tidal power project in the same way that an earlier generation of Quebec officials took advantage of the Churchill Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador. Such action could risk scuttling the project and potentially harm Quebec's economic future.
During an earlier era, a renewable-energy mega-power project in Northeastern Canada would have been the kind of project that could have created a political legacy, or built a political reputation. At this point in time, the emphasis is on reducing government expenditures and balancing budgets at both federal and provincial levels. However, most provincial politicians across Canada are reluctant to abandon the Marxist ideal of state ownership and state regulation over the generation, transmission and sale of electric power. In a more market oriented political environment, a potentially viable tidal mega-power station being built by a consortium of private companies using private funding, would likely have come to fruition with little or no fanfare.