British Columbia PRIMED for marine renewables

Brad Buckham (Photo: UVic Photo Services)

The government of Canada has provided funding for the establishment of the Pacific Regional Institute for Marine Energy Discovery (PRIMED) to help develop and commercialize marine renewable energy technologies.

The PRIMED project, led by University of Victoria (UVic) mechanical engineer Brad Buckham, will bring together the skills, tools and knowledge of companies, academics and coastal remote communities interested in marine renewable energy (MRE) projects to provide solutions to the challenges facing the industry.

The C$1.4 million ($1.1 million) in funding, awarded to UVic and provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), will see PRIMED help support the adoption of alternative technologies in remote coastal communities, including Indigenous communities.

PRIMED will make use of extensive wind, wave and tide data which Buckham and the multi-partner West Coast Wave Initiative (WCWI) gathered at UVic over the past eight years, and consolidate it with new data gathered by sensors on the new Canadian Pacific Robotic Ocean Observing Facility (C-PROOF).

Using simulations, PRIMED will provide detailed predictions of energy supply prior to the deployment of devices.

The aim is to eliminate the uncertainty and risk that are killing ‘first-of-a-kind’ community based marine energy projects, UVic said.

Jonathan Wilkinson, Member of Parliament for North Vancouver and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, said: “Finding alternative methods to generate power, especially for remote, diesel-reliant communities, aligns with our priority of fostering the development of clean technologies. By exploring methods to harness the power of oceans and rivers, PRIMED is working to provide cleaner, more sustainable energy solutions for communities, both in Canada and across the globe.”

Canada’s off-grid remote communities, the majority of which are Indigenous, are reliant on expensive and dirty diesel-fueled electricity generation.

Britsh Columbia is home to a disproportionately large number of these communities. For them, marine energy, like wind, wave and tidal, is the predominant local renewable energy option.

What’s holding back many of these communities from investing in marine renewable technologies is the lack of available data to assess the raw resource, how they can harness the resource, and how they can synchronize a marine energy supply with local demand, according to UVic.

PRIMED is said to be critical to building the trust between communities and technology developers needed to initiate first-of-a-kind energy projects and anticipates becoming the model that other jurisdictions around the world follow.

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