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City could kickstart tidal energy project

Campbell River could lead the country in developing energy from the ocean tides, according to an organization pushing for ocean energy in B.C.

Situated along Discovery Passage, Campbell River could be the place where the tidal energy industry is developed, said Chris Campbell, executive director of Ocean Renewable Energy Group, which supports ocean energy projects across Canada.

“The reason why Campbell River keeps coming up and why national companies look here is Discover Passage includes five of the top 50 Canadian (tidal power) sites,” Campbell said at a council meeting Tuesday night. “This is an industry yet to be developed, there are no suppliers, which translates into an opportunity for researchers and an opportunity for the region to be a leader as this industry is designed. We’ve got some companies that are interested in this area.”

The city lead a tidal power assessment study last year, the first municipality in B.C. to do so, and results indicated that currents around the fishing pier are not fast enough to power electricity.

However, the area is suitable for research and demonstration purposes.

“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,” Amber Zirnhelt, the city’s sustainability manager, said in September. “Often researchers prefer sites with slower currents.”

Campbell agreed the city would be an ideal test location.

“It would be strategical, I think, for Campbell River to think of itself as a development centre for this industry and...basically become a place where people will be looking to as the industry starts to grow,” Campbell said.

He added he sees the industry “as an economic opportunity (for Campbell River) as it is developed.”

Campbell also told council that Ocean Renewable Energy Group and other marine energy proponents will be writing a letter to the provincial government asking cabinet to enable BC Hydro to offer “enhanced standard-offer” contracts for a small group of pioneering wave and tidal projects. Council agreed, after Campbell’s presentation, to sign the letter in the support.

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