Tidal power studies start with community input

A Nanaimo-based engineering firm wants to investigate the feasibility of tidal power in this area

A Nanaimo-based engineering firm that wants to investigate the feasibility of tidal power in this area is starting the process by measuring the ebb and flow of public sentiment.

SRM Projects Ltd. has applied for investigative licenses for the purpose of determining the potential for future tidal power projects in south Discovery Passage and Seymour Narrows.

Engagement with First Nations and community stakeholders is underway. SRM Principal Scott Merriam says: “We are seeking support from the community for the investigative activities proposed and intend to address questions and concerns to earn this.”

An open house meeting will be held in Campbell River Nov. 22 to provide interested parties with information about the proposed investigative activities. The meeting will be held between 7 p.m. and 8:30 in the Rivercorp boardroom, 900 Alder Street and will begin with a slideshow presentation.

“Tidal energy is a new and emerging source of power, unproven and yet to be commercialized,” Merriam says. “In B.C. we have a significant potential tidal energy resource based on past studies, much of it around Vancouver Island. If we can successfully harness our tidal energy resource in an environmentally friendly manner, we can add another clean energy source to the B.C. power portfolio and create construction and maintenance jobs, helping to offset declines in traditional resource industries like forestry and fishing.”

While the cost of developing tidal power today is typically three or more times that of hydro or wind power, the sector anticipates that these costs will come down during the next decade making it a more economical source of electricity.

SRM Projects proposes to investigate what tidal energy is realistically available at each site; what environmental and stakeholder values are important in the areas; and, confirm if future tidal power projects are viable. The process will include detailed tidal modeling of the sites, deployment of instruments on the ocean bottom to record current speeds, examining the sites to determine what species inhabit the area and the terrain features.

The investigative activities are expected to take up to five years to complete. Consultations will determine cultural, commercial and recreational values and gauge community support.

“If the preliminary resource assessments are correct, it may be possible to generate commercial power in the proposed investigative areas without noticeable impacts,” Merriam says.