This report presents results of studies conducted to quantify and map Canada’s renewable marine energy resources due to waves and tidal currents. These studies constitute the initial phase of a multi-year project that aims to create a digital atlas of Canadian renewable marine energy resources.
The waters off Canada’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts are endowed with rich wave energy resources. The results presented herein define the scale of these resources, as well as their significant spatial and seasonal variations. The annual mean wave power along the 1,000 m isobath off Canada’s Pacific coast totals roughly 37,000 MW, equivalent to over 55% of Canadian electricity consumption, while the annual mean wave power along the 1,000 m isobath off Canada’s Atlantic coast sums to roughly 146,500 MW or more than double current electricity demand. The wave energy available in winter is generally four to seven times greater than in summer. It is important to recognize that due to various factors including environmental considerations, losses associated with power conversion, and socio-economic factors, only a fraction of the available wave energy resource can be extracted and converted into useful power. Even so, the Canadian resources are considered sufficient to justify further research into their development as an important source of renewable green energy for the future.
Canada is also endowed with sizeable tidal current energy resources. Compared to other renewable energy sources such as solar, winds and waves, tidal currents have the distinct advantage of being reliable and highly predictable. A total of 190 sites with potential mean power greater than 1 MW have been identified. The total mean potential power at these 190 sites exceeds 42,000 MW, equivalent to roughly 63% of current electricity demand. Classified by Province and Territory, Nunavut has by far the largest potential resource, while British Columbia has the most sites with mean power greater than 1 MW. It is important to note that, as in the case of wave energy, only a fraction of the available tidal current resource can be converted into useable energy without noticeable impact on tides and tidal flows. The effects of extracting energy from tidal currents and from ocean waves should be assessed carefully on a case-by-case basis.
This report includes several recommendations for further work, including new modelling studies of nearshore wave conditions and tidal flows in selected regions, and the creation of a webenabled digital atlas of Canadian marine renewable energy resources.