News

Tidal-powered electricity not likely

Currents around the fishing pier are not fast enough to generate electricity but the area is suitable for research and demonstration purposes, a tidal power assessment study found.

Campbell River is the first municipality in B.C. to lead such a study.

“It’s really, really groundbreaking and we’ve had the opportunity to work with the top tidal researchers and engineers in the world,” said Amber Zirnhelt, the city’s sustainability manager at last Tuesday’s council meeting. “The aim of the study was to determine the feasibility of installing a small scale tidal turbine at the Discovery Fishing Pier.”

The feasibility assessment included a site visit and current observations, wave height and refraction analysis, tidal modelling and habitat mapping.

Study results revealed current speeds around the pier are not fast enough to generate electricity to power the pier and Maritime Heritage Centre, as the city had hoped but the area could be an ideal test location.

“The best way for the city to move forward on promoting tidal energy would be to promote Campbell River as a research and demonstration site and partner with industry and senior government,” Zirnhelt said. “Often researchers prefer sites with slower currents.”

Coun. Andy Adams said the city’s energy and emissions task force sees a research facility as a potential economic generator and would like to see Rivercorp play a lead role in the project.

“I view this as best left to a more entrepreneurial body than the city,” Adams said.

Coun. Mary Storry agreed.

“Rivercorp is the perfect vehicle to explore these opportunities more,” she said.

Zirnhelt recommended council choose to partner with the tidal power industry and senior government to promote Campbell River as a site for tidal power research and development.

“Campbell River now has the opportunity to access complete tidal model mapping of the Discovery Passage area surrounding the community that could also be used for developers interested in larger scale tidal demonstration projects,” Zirnhelt said. “Campbell River has the opportunity to put itself on the map as one of Canada’s best locations for tidal research and demonstration.”

In the end, council chose to defer any decision on the matter until more information is available regarding available funds in Rivercorp’s budget.

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