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Ocean energy

What is ocean energy?

The ocean is a vast source of energy that can be harnessed to produce usable energy in the form of electricity. Ocean energy includes energy produced by:

  • the natural rise and fall of tides and tidal currents from the gravitational influence of the sun and moon (tidal energy)
  • the movement of waves (wave energy)

Ocean energy is also commonly known as marine energy.

  • Ocean energy in Canada

    Being landlocked only along its southern border, much of Canada is surrounded by oceans, meaning it has access to significant energy potential. There has been growing interest in ocean energy in Canada in the last 10-15 years, with several demonstration projects underway. As it is an emerging energy sector, there are ongoing studies to address technical, economic and environmental challenges to meet environmental and regulatory compliance.

    Tidal energy in Canada

    Tidal energy can take two forms. Potential energy associated with the rise and fall of tides can be harnessed by building a barrage across a tidal estuary, while kinetic energy associated with tidal currents (moving water) can be harnessed using instream tidal energy devices. Presently, Canada is not pursuing energy extraction from tidal barrage due to high capital costs and environmental concerns. Canada is, however, pursuing tidal current (or instream tidal) energy production. Tidal currents are reliable and predictable, offering great potential to power turbines and generate electricity.

    To date, Canada has no operational capacity for tidal current (instream tidal) energy production. A few instream tidal demonstration projects achieved successful short-term operation off the coasts of British Columbia and Nova Scotia, in past years. However, there are currently several instream tidal projects under development in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. In fact, one project reached a milestone recently and successfully delivered power to the grid. With tidal currents reaching up to 10 knots (5.1 m/s), the Bay of Fundy has the fastest tides in the world and is a promising site for the future development of Canada’s tidal current resources.

    Wave energy in Canada

    The waters off Canada’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts are rich with wave energy resources. Roughly, 42,000 megawatts of theoretical capacity exist off Canada’s Pacific coast, equal to more than 60% of the country’s annual electricity consumption. The theoretical capacity off Canada’s Atlantic coast is even greater at about 146,500 megawatts – more than double the current electricity demand. In Canada, wave energy has yet to be realized as usable power due to various factors including socio-economics, the harsh ocean environment, power conversion losses, and cost.

Ocean energy research, development and demonstration (RD&D) at NRCan

NRCan’s science and technology experts are advancing ocean energy.

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