British Columbia Is Ready For Wave Energy

By Roy L Hales

Since 2001, there have been several inquiries into the plausibility of harnessing the wave energy off Vancouver Island. So far, projects were rejected because of the associated costs. A new report from UVic’s West Coast Wave Initiative (WCWI) suggests British Columbia is ready for wave energy.

British Columbia Is Ready For Wave Energy

Lead author Bryson Robertson (l) and co-author Brad Buckham – Courtesy WCWI

This would still be a costly venture to develop, but the benefits are even greater.

It will be difficult for Canada to meet it’s  2050 emissions target, an 80% reduction on 2005 levels by 2050. This calls for a massive ramping up in the generation of non-emitting electricity.

Though still intermittent, wave energy is more predictable than either wind or solar. Lead author Bryson Robertson says that there is only a  15% margin of error in an average a four-hour wave forecast, “while wind and solar in the Pacific Northwest are closer to 77% and 86%, respectively.”

“This makes wave energy more reliable and therefore easier to integrate into the electricity grid.”1

Wave energy produces more power during the winter months when the electrical system needs it most. The  Vic press release reports that seasonal shift results in “monthly mean values of 50 kW/m during the winter and only 6.5 kW/m during the calmer summer months.”

Finding The Sweet Spots

AXYS wave buoy in the ocean off Ucluelet, BC – Courtesy WCWI

Brad Buckingham and the team used computer modelling to find the sweet spots where wave energy would be most advantageous. They searched BC’s coastline from the Columbia River to Haida Gwaii. They found  “wave energy generation would occur at locations closest to communities currently at high risk from electrical supply interruptions.”2

As for the cost, the authors believe that if it receives “the sort of public sector support that wind and solar have received … wave energy could potentially follow a similar path of cost reductions.”3

Top photo Credit: AXYS wave buoy off Ucluelet, BC- Courtesy WCWI

Footnotes

  1. Bryson Robertson et al, WAVE ENERGY A PRIMER FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, p 8
  2. Ibid, p 38
  3. Ibid, p 8

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