It’s a glorious autumn morning on Brier Island, Nova Scotia, with birdsong in the air and the sun glinting off the rips of Grand Passage. Weathered clapboard and shingled houses line the island’s two principal streets, and chubby workboats—built for lobstering, mostly—jam the protected harbor, where wharves loom more than 20 feet above low tide.
Grand Passage appears almost empty on this day, except for the car ferry yo-yoing back and forth between Brier Island and Long Island, its two 400-horsepower engines roaring. But as I come around a bend, I spy a sleek yellow-and-white vessel, not half a mile from shore, pinned smack in the middle of the notoriously swift current. Though the craft has three narrow hulls, and what look like four giant propellers, it’s not a boat. It is a power plant capable of producing nearly 280 kilowatts of carbon-free electricity.
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