Canada's Ocean Supercluster (OSC) has unveiled the HydroAware Project, a $10.5 million initiative aimed at advancing hydropower capabilities while ensuring the conservation of aquatic habitats through AI-powered fish monitoring. This endeavor is set to enhance fish tracking technology in challenging marine environments and improve the accessibility of fish tracking insights in remote locations.

Led by Innovasea in Bedford, Nova Scotia, the HydroAware Project is expected to bring about crucial advancements in fish tracking technology. These advancements seek to address existing challenges faced by hydropower companies, such as streamlining approval processes for tidal stream and hydropower projects, reducing regulatory hurdles, and enhancing revenue opportunities within the renewable energy sector.

The project, which boasts a total investment of nearly $10.5 million, is a collaborative effort, with Canada's Ocean Supercluster contributing $5 million through the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy (PCAIS) Program. The remaining financial support is coming from project partners, including the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE), BigMoon Power, Nova Scotia Power Inc., New Brunswick Power Corporation, and DeepSense.

Hydropower companies often find themselves at the intersection of energy production and environmental conservation, facing the challenge of minimizing the impact on fish populations by their infrastructure while adhering to stringent regulations. Fish tracking solutions play a pivotal role in monitoring fish behavior in and around these facilities.

The HydroAware Project will usher in a new era for fish tracking technology by incorporating AI, which will allow hydropower companies to collect more comprehensive data on fish behavior, expedite regulatory approvals, and bolster Canada's efforts in renewable hydropower generation. This AI-powered system will help in collecting concrete evidence of safe fish passage and thus streamline the regulatory approval process.

Commenting on this innovative project, Kendra MacDonald, CEO of Canada's Ocean Supercluster, stated: "AI in ocean has the potential to help transform the way we do ocean business. Today Canada’s Ocean Supercluster announce the $10.5 million dollar HydroAware Project, bringing together partners across different ocean sectors to advance AI in fish tracking technology, manage the movement of fish around hydropower infrastructure, support the sustainable growth of an industry and create economic benefits and jobs in the process."

Mark Jollymore, President of Innovasea, emphasized the potential of incorporating AI capabilities into fish tracking technology, saying: "Incorporating artificial intelligence capabilities to our existing fish tracking technology will help ensure that hydropower producers in Canada and beyond are able to meet their green power goals in a manner that safeguards habitats and minimizes impacts to marine life. AI will enable us to monitor fish activity in environments that were previously too remote or inhospitable, ultimately serving as a catalyst for the next generation of hydro and tidal power facilities."

The HydroAware Project builds upon the significant progress made by Innovasea in tagless fish detection technology, which provides hydropower producers with real-time data on fish activity in and around their infrastructure to achieve the dual mandate of wildlife protection and operational enhancement.

In support of tidal energy's role in achieving clean energy targets, FORCE emphasized the importance of this project: "Tidal energy can help us meet our clean energy targets, contribute to our economy, and reduce reliance on imported energy. HydroAware will help us unlock that potential by improving our understanding of how fish and tidal devices interact with each other, and ensuring the safeguarding of our marine ecosystems."