Turning Tides, Rivers and Waves into Renewable Energy

By Chantal Hunter
February 2012

The recently released Marine Renewable Energy Technology Roadmap looks to advance marine energy technologies in Canada and internationally.
Image of electrical cables going into the Bay of Fundy

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Electrical cables going into the Bay of Fundy

On Canada’s east coast, workers are preparing to connect four tidal turbines via underwater cables in the Bay of Fundy.  Once connected, an estimated 4 to 8 megawatts of electricity will be fed into the Nova Scotia power grid. 

The underwater array of generators is the initial stage of a marine energy project by the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE).  The development is expected to eventually generate about 64 megawatts of energy, or enough to power roughly 20,000 homes. It will have the largest capacity for generating energy from tides in the world.

This is just one of many examples of a burgeoning marine energy industry in Canada. Now, a concerted effort is being made to tap into the potential of this large renewable energy source.

Harnessing the Power of Rivers, Tides and Waves

“With its abundant resources as well as growing expertise in marine technology, Canada is poised to become a world leader in offshore renewable energy.”

Monika Knowles, Marine Energy Officer
Natural Resources Canada

The world’s tidal currents, ocean waves and river currents all contain energy that can potentially be harnessed to drive turbines and produce electricity. Having an overall assessment of the state of each technology and where it is headed gives companies perspective and insight into where to best invest their resources.

Over one hundred companies and organizations across Canada are providing research and working to help develop marine energy technologies that can produce electricity.  To build upon their successes, assess the viability of different technologies and push them towards commercialization, a coordinated approach was required to move the industry forward.

This led to the development of an overarching technology “roadmap”, or direction for technology development.  Funded by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and released by the Ocean Renewable Energy in Canada Group (OREG), the Marine Renewable Energy Technology Roadmap looks at how to advance the commercialization of marine energy technologies in Canada and ensure international competitiveness.

“With its abundant resources as well as growing expertise in marine technology, Canada is poised to become a world leader in offshore renewable energy,” says Monika Knowles, a Marine Energy Officer, with NRCan’s Renewables and Integrated Energy Systems Branch.

Energy of the Future

Image of river current turbine

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River current turbine

Contributions of industry partners, NRCan, OREG, and other interested parties were incorporated into the development of the Roadmap.  These included provincial government agencies, utilities companies, project and technology developers, large industrial companies and the research community.

The Roadmap aims to foster development of potential sources of energy such as rivers using in-stream current technologies and tidal current and wave technology where renewable energy can be fed into the power grid for larger communities.  It also hopes to make inroads in developing Canadian technologies for use in remote communities where fossil fuel is expensive to purchase and transport.

“With this enhanced collaboration, the momentum for marine energy continues to grow and offers promising opportunities for the ocean technology, power and manufacturing sectors,” says Monika.

To view the full report, please visit the OREG site.

To read about related articles, see Renewable Energy

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