Very cool Alternative Energy news out of Ucluelet and the Alberni Valley Times today. With an interesting link to a long past era.
The Pacific Coastal Wave plan is to build a demonstration project which will generate up to four megawatts (mw) of electricity, using the movement of the ocean swell to pump water to a shore-based turbine station
Pacific Coastal Wave is a company co-owned by Global Energy Horizons, of Victoria B.C., Canada . Anthony Abbott, a former Minister in the Pierre Trudeau Cabinet from 1976-79 serves as a Director of the company amongst other high-powered executives.
The other partner in the venture is Renewable Energy Holdings… a seemingly behemoth alternative energy holding company. In their latest report, they do seem quite enthused with the prospect of wave energy in Ucluelet, and that’s what is important here. From their report:
sites include Bermuda, West Coast Vancouver Island, Canada and others under review, all of which offer excellent wave regimes and exposure to high economic returns.
As is noted here by REH, Wave Energy has the potential to produce over 2 TeraWatts of power. Equivalent to 400,000 single 5MW wind turbines.
Ucluelet and Vancouver Island are ideally placed because of the near constant rolling swell of the NE Pacific along the West Coast of North America, and the close proximity of the BC Hydro electrical grid to that water.
A little more about the project itself:
The CECO system uses a multitude of buoys anchored to the ocean floor, between 15 and 50 metres deep. De Clare said the submerged buoys are set in constant motion by the ocean swell (not the waves). Those constantly moving buoys in turn provide the motive power for a patented “sloppy pump” system on the ocean floor.
“They push sea water onto land at a pressure of 1,000 pounds per square inch (psi),” de Clare explained.
In Ucluelet, that water pressure will drive a turbine generator, but it can also be used to turn sea water into fresh water.
“You need 800 psi to desalinize water,” de Clare said. “The government in Australia particularly likes that part.”
The sloppy pump system is self-lubricating with sea water, and the generation takes place on land – that removes two major environmental objections to the CECO system, de Clare said. The materials used in the CECO system – Hypalon plastic, stainless steel and concrete – are familiar and benign, he added.
Simple, and effective.
This is excellent news for Ucluelet, a former fishing and forestry village, which like so many other BC Communities, has had to turn to Tourism to create jobs. It has done this reasonably successfully, but something a little more concrete like Alternative Energy would be more than welcome for the local economy. And the benefit potentially won’t stop in Ucluelet. A little further inland and up the Alberni Inlet from Ucluelet lies my hometown of Port Alberni. In much the same way as Ucluelet, its’ primary, traditional, industries have been decimated over the past few years, but with a Deep Sea port and lots of industrial space, this might be a door to a whole new industry building these systems and exporting them all around the world.
One can only hope. It’s nice to have some good news for once.