New research collaboration makes waves for Oceans Day

June 5, 2009

uvic-logoAs we get ready to celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8, the University of Victoria is teaming up with the federal government and industry to assess the energy-giving capacity of the ocean.

The West Coast Wave Collaboration project (WCWCP) is a network of researchers, engineers, entrepreneurs and computer modeling experts that will collect and analyse information on the wave energy potential off western Vancouver Island.

The two-year project, co-funded by the Government of Canada, will use wind, wave and tidal current data collected from a single fixed buoy which will be located at Amphitrite Bank off Ucluelet, BC.

“This is exciting research as the potential of ocean energy seems almost limitless.   Our Government is proud to be investing in this project,” said the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Natural Resources. “Not only will this investment support our environmental initiatives but by funding in research projects we are creating jobs for Canadians and while improve the economy.”

“The modeling expertise developed through the WCWCP will advance potential wave energy projects in BC and contribute to the development of future sites for the Canadian wave energy industry,” says Dr. Bradley Buckham, a UVic mechanical engineer and a primary investigator for the project.

Many questions remain unanswered for the Canadian wave energy sector. Which wave energy conversion devices are the most effective and economical? What locations are optimal? And how do local environmental factors such as ocean depth, ocean current and wind influence each device?

Data-gathering and model development during the project will assist planning and project developers in the wave energy industry, channel wave energy research at universities, and help guide policy and program development by government and regulators.

“For wave energy to become a valued alternative energy supply, we need to produce reliable computational tools that can be used to define the near-shore wave energy resource on a broad physical scale,” says Buckham. “We hope to be the first in the water with a coordinated modeling and field measurement program.”

WCWCP partners are: UVic’s Institute for Integrated Energy Systems (IESVic); the Canadian Offshore Renewable Energy Group; Fred Olsen Marine Renewables; Triton Consultants Ltd; Natural Power Consultants; AXYS Technologies; BC Hydro; and CanmetENERGY of Natural Resources Canada.

The project received $80,000 in federal funding from the Government of Canada, $54,000 in donated instrumentation and $10,000 funding from BC Hydro, and $30,000 funding from Fred Olsen Marine Renewables. In addition to $4,000 in funding, Natural Power Consultants is leading on permitting, approvals, modelling and supporting operations including deployment. Triton Consultants is supplying $20,000 worth of staff time to the project and $8,000 in proprietary software for use by the UVic researchers executing the wave modeling, and AXYS Technologies is providing a custom buoy design uniquely suited to the intense wave activity of the Amphitrite Bank.

Information about World Oceans Day events is available at www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/oceans/events-evenements/oceansday-journeedesoceans/index-eng.htm. Information about UVic research is available at www.uvic.ca/research/.

Media contacts:

Dr. Brad Buckham (Department of xx) at 250-721-6035 or bbuckham@uvic.ca

Tara Sharpe (UVic Communications) at 250-721-6248 or tksharpe@uvic.ca

UVic Communications Services, PO Box 1700 STN CSC Victoria, BC V8W 2Y2 Tel. (250) 721-7636 Fax (250) 721-8955 E-Mail: ucom@uvic.ca

###

AXYS Technologies Inc. designs, manufactures, distributes and maintains remote environmental data acquisition, processing and telemetry systems.  For further information contact AXYS at:  info@axys.com or www.axystechnologies.com.