Marine Renewable Energy in the Western Canadian News!

Campbell River BC Conference Promotes Marine Renewable Energy

By John Twigg
Editor, Campbell River News and Views (see story and photos at www.crnv.com)

About 75 people attended an open house Thursday evening in Campbell River aimed at building “social license” for the development of renewable energy projects in the tidal waters of B.C.’s coast.
The event in the Maritime Heritage Centre was part of a two-day meeting involving private and public-sector parties interested in developing commercial energy projects in the wide variety of opportunities in the region, particularly turbines in high-flow-rate locations.
Tidal power has been known of and promoted for quite a few years locally but the number of technological, political and financial obstacles have been slowing the process even though it is a relatively clean and renewable energy source.
“Stakeholder involvement is really important when there are many competing interests,” Scot Merriam of SRM Projects told the meeting, explaining new energy facilities such as tidal turbines have to be compatible with other interests including shipping, boating, fishing, recreation and the environment.
But social license is only one of several key hurdles such as constructability, power yields and access to the electricity grid operated by B.C. Hydro or to some other off-grid consumer. And if or when those concerns are resolved the proponents still must prove the reliability of their machinery, equipment and technology.
Merriam and other presenters at the open house explained that there are many potential tidal and wave power generation locations on B.C.’s extensive coastline but most of them are far from Hydro’s grid or have other impediments such as the high volume of recreational boating in the southern Gulf Islands.
“There is a lot of tidal power potential around Campbell River – it’s the tidal power capital of Vancouver Island,” said Chris Campbell, executive director of Marine Renewables Canada, a not-for-profit industry association based in Halifax which co-sponsored the event with Campbell River’s Rivercorp, SRM Projects Ltd. and Dynamic Systems Analysis Ltd.
Merriam, who specializes in feasibility assessments, told the audience B.C. has a lot of good technology but now the industry needs to get more social license so it can move to more installations.
The meeting also heard from Bonita Wallace of the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations who explained its Crown Land Authorizations process.
The association noted there are about 30 active ocean energy investigative license applications pending in B.C. including several near Campbell River.
It said the purpose of the event is to “provide information … to build relationships among industry, communities and government that enable Canadian technology and service providers and ensure future projects are successful for all stakeholders.”
Further information is available from Rivercorp and Marine Renewables Canada.