What is Wave Power?

  • Wave energy is the term used for the energy generated from the power found in waves.
  • Differential heating of the ocean surface from the sun creates wind, which creates waves and swells.
  • The energy that is available in a wave depends on its length and height.
  • The waves and swells that arrive near shore have collected energy from broad areas of the ocean.

Why Wave?

  • The west coast of BC has been identified as having some of the best wave energy potential in the world.
  • Future projects may be constructed along the west coast of Vancouver Island, and the Haida Gwaii.
  • Wave energy is highly forecastable and, since it collects wind energy over large areas, is relatively persistent.
  • Wave energy is most intense in winter months when BC energy needs are highest.

The Technology

  • Wave energy devices are designed to capture the energy found near the surface of the water and convert it to power.
  • The energy harvesting devices exploit the changing water surface from wave trough to crest and the dynamics of water movements in the wave.
  • Wave energy plants will be, for the most part, arrays of generators interconnected to the grid.
  • While numerous configurations of wave energy devices have been invented and tested, there are commonly five categories:
    1. Buoys
    2. Surface following
    3. Oscillating water column
    4. Terminators
    5. Overtopping
  • BUOYS – floating structures which are carried up and down and/or pushed side to side by the waves and convert that movement into power to drive a generator.
  • SURFACE FOLLOWING – floating structures hinged together following the surface movement of passing waves using the relative motion of the parts to drive a generator.
  • OSCILLATING WATER COLUMN – enclosed column of air which rises and falls with the motion of the waves, pushing out and sucking back through a turbine which drives a generator.
  • TERMINATORS – line of floating structures placed facing the oncoming waves and forced to move against each other using the power to drive a generator.
  • OVERTOPPING – an offshore reservoir is created as waves flow up a ramp into the structure, then flow back out through a turbine that drives a generator.

Wave Power in BC

  • Two wave energy projects have received provincial ICE funding: SyncWave Energy Systems and the Pacific Coastal Wave Energy Corp.
  • Both projects are located off the west coast of Vancouver Island.
  • The West Coast Wave Collaboration Project is a government and industry resource assessment initiative that will develop modeling expertise, advance the development of wave energy projects in BC, and provide critical information to wave energy device developers.
  • Several potential wave farm development sites have been investigated.

Environmental & Regulatory Considerations

  • There are no known environmental issues for wave energy.
  • Strategic Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Assessments have been completed in a number of jurisdictions.
  • While concerns exist for ecological impacts and disruption to local fishing, mitigation measures will be implemented.
  • Research continues to be conducted on potential environmental impacts at a number of academic institutions.
  • Until devices have spent significant time in real world applications, environmental impacts can only be estimated.

Socio-Economic Benefits

  • The power from ocean energy will be green electricity, using a renewable source of energy and not emitting greenhouse gases.
  • This decreases the need for fossil fuels for electricity production and aids in combating the effects of climate change.
  • Canadian green ocean energy will be in demand for energy exports.
  • Ocean generated electricity is a method of reducing the risk associated with price fluctuations of convention fuel sources, creating energy price security.
  • Utilizing a number of different energy sources aids in energy security, decreasing the reliance on a single energy source, and increasing energy self-sufficiency.
  • Ocean energy project and device development will create direct jobs as well as employment for related industries such as marine manufacturing, engineering and oceanography, and power supply and service sectors.
  • Ocean energy devices are being pursued for project development in remote regions not connected to electricity grid systems.
  • Through the use of renewable energy sources such as ocean energy, these communities can decrease their reliance on diesel and use saved fuel costs for community development initiatives.

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