Tidal power technology rolls into Haida Gwaii shores

A Haida Gwaii company has developed a technology that may one day provide power to parts of Haida Gwaii by harnessing the energy from tides.

The prototype for a new tidal energy generator aims to help the area move away from diesel power

Yourbrook Energy has created a shallow water, pump storage system to create a firm energy source that helps to move the northern communities in Haida Gwaii away from diesel power. (Yourbrook Energy Systems Ltd./Facebook)

A Haida Gwaii company has developed a technology that may one day provide power to parts of Haida Gwaii by harnessing the energy from tides.

Right now, the northern half of Haida Gwaii uses diesel to provide power to all homes and buildings.

It's an expensive power source and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

Clyde Greenough, business manager of Yourbrook Energy, said his company has developed a generator that is powered solely by the ocean's tide.

The technology — a pump storage system — harnesses the powerful pull of the tide to turn the blades of a pump that then pressurizes the water and sends it up an incline.

"So we pump high pressure water up a hill to a reservoir and to simplify things it comes back down the hill and into a turbine like a standard hydro project," Greenough said.

He and three colleagues — all from Haida Gwaii — designed the generator.

The goal is to get rid of the region's reliance on diesel altogether and help the environment.

Rid reliance on diesel

​"We want to get onto some kind of clean energy, there are other things out there, but we're part of the solution," said Greenough.

"Haida Gwaii is supposed to be pristine wilderness and we actually have probably one of the higher carbon footprints in Canada per capita," he noted.

Yourbrook Energy has created a shallow water, pump storage system to create a firm energy source that could help move the northern communities in Haida Gwaii away from diesel power. (Yourbrook Energy Systems Ltd./Facebook)

Haida Gwaii is not connected to BC Hydro's electric grid, but the Crown corporation is responsible for providing power to the region through diesel generating systems.

A private hydroelectric plant provides power to the southern region.

For that reason, the community has been searching for alternative ways to power the archipelago, considering ideas like wind farms and wood waste.

The Haida Nation members strongly rejected the wind farm proposal over environmental concerns in 2011, vetoing the project, but the idea of tidal power seems to be more popular.

BC Hydro — in a bid to identify viable power projects — sought ideas in 2012.

Yourbrook Energy submitted one of 26 proposals.

Their project has been funded in part by the National Research Council of Canada.

The field testing stage of the project will last three months.

 Following successful tests, the company aims to build a full scale demonstration of the technology.

With files from the CBC's Daybreak North.