A $2.4-million investment into researching renewable energy for coastal communities and in ships whose engines will emit less greenhouse gases was announced at the University of Victoria on August 24,
A $2.4-million investment into researching renewable energy for coastal communities and in ships whose engines will emit less greenhouse gases was announced at the University of Victoria on August 24, 2023.
The federal government will contribute $1.4 million to kickstart the Pacific Regional Institute for Marine Energy Discovery, a new initiative to develop renewable energy sources for remote coastal communities, many of which now rely on diesel generators for electricity. A $1-million investment by the charitable Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and Seaspan Shipyards will support a green transportation research team led by mechanical engineer Zuomin Dong working with UVic’s Institute for Integrated Energy Systems. The team will research hybrid electric technologies that enable cleaner, lower- cost fuel alternatives for ships and large vehicles.
The announcement was made by Jonathan Wilkinson, MP for North Vancouver and parliamentary secretary to the minister of the environment and climate change. The Pacific Regional Institute for Marine Energy Discovery at UVic will be led by mechanical engineer Brad Buckham and will help develop and commercialize wind, wave and tidal energy technologies. Buckham said the promise of wave and tidal energy is well known. The average wave along the B.C. coast is delivered with 30 kilowatts of energy. “That’s the power capacity equivalent of 15 homes, each with two teenagers simultaneously microwaving snacks, charging their phones, watching TV, listening to the stereo, Snapchatting their friends and running the showers on high,” he said. Powering up B.C. coastal communities with wave or tidal power is probably years away, Buckham said.
But those risks and growing pains can be foreseen, managed and better mitigated with good knowledge of how much, when and where the ocean waves and tides deliver their energy, he said. That way the best energy-capture technologies can be deployed in the best places. It’s that knowledge of the ocean waves and how they act year round over the long term that will be worked out with research at UVic. “Right now, we are just not accustomed to putting devices in the ocean to measure wave activity for two years to get a bead on what the energy resource is doing and where it’s coming from,” Buckham said.
West coast wave initiative
As the universal need to move from fossil fuel-based energy sources to renewables grows, it is imperative that all renewable sources should be examined thoroughly. The power of ocean waves is a global resource that has a higher concentration than both wind and solar energy. Currently rough estimates of global available wave power are 1 TW near shore and 10 TW offshore. This compares very favourably when compared against the total world power consumption of approximately 10TW.
Sited at the University of Victoria, the West Coast Wave Initiative (WCWI) is a multi-disciplinary group of academics and industry members committed to quantitatively determining the feasibility, impacts and possible structure of wave energy conversion on the west coast of Canada. The group is developing industry leading wave energy resource assessment methods, numerical simulation tools for Wave Energy Converters (WEC) and numerical grid integration toolboxes to create the most accurate possible assessment of the feasibility of wave energy conversion in British Columbia. WCWI members are continually striving to better understand the environment in which WEC function, the technological and social impacts of WEC development and the policy steps required to ensure wave energy conversion if thoroughly examined as we move towards more renewable and less harmful energy sources for future generations.
Dr. Brad Buckham is the Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a member of the Institute for Integrated Energy Systems at the University of Victoria. He specializes in offshore mechanics with a focus on marine energy technologies and resource assessment. Brad’s graduate student team comprises the West Coast Wave Initiative (WCWI) and focus on innovation in the wave energy space.
Brad is also co-director of the Pacific Regional Institute for Marine Energy Discovery (PRIMED) – a marine energy commercialization hub that uses student developed tools, methods and datasets in efforts to identify BC’s strategic marine energy sites, and to help develop plans for community based wave and tidal energy projects. Dr. Buckham’s contributions to research and training in the marine renewables sector have been recognized by the BC Innovation Council, Natural Resources Canada and Mitacs Canada. In his role as a University instructor, he was the 2018 recipient of Excellence in Teaching awards from the Engineers and Geoscientists of BC and Engineers Canada.
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