WET Energy: Renewable Solutions for Remote Power Generation

CleanTech Innovation Showcase Presenting Company Recap: WET Energy

By Ray Adler

CleanTech Alliance Contributor

Remote communities up and down the coast of British Columbia are dependent on costly diesel fuel for their electricity. Vice President of Development Russ Baker explained how WET Energy plans to displace this diesel market using microgrids powered by tidal energy generators and energy storage. Baker presented at the 2017 CleanTech Innovation Showcase.

Though tidal energy and energy storage are still relatively expensive technologies, they are still economical in these remote environments due to the high costs of diesel power. Shipping diesel to these areas is expensive and environmentally hazardous (fuel spills) which means the energy produced by diesel can cost as much as $0.65/kWh.

WET has already implemented a tidal energy powered microgrid with 500kWh Tesla batteries at the Dent Island Lodge. Baker noted that the Tesla storage system is scalable from hundreds of kilowatts to megawatts as needed. Unlike tidal energy projects in the Bay of Fundy and the North Sea, which have submerged turbines, the Dent Island project features a floating tidal device designed by WET called the Water Wall that is tethered to the sea bottom with a submarine cable. When asked how the device would be affected by climate change and sea level rise, Baker replied that the submarine cable would need to be lengthened. The total project cost was $5 million and the system is expected to deliver energy that will cost an average of $0.20/kWh.

Future sites are planned for development including a tidal power and storage station at Quadra Island in Discovery Passage. The plan for the Quadra Island site also proposes a demonstration center that will include a solar roof and small wind turbine. Excess power generated by these systems could be exported to the grid as needed via existing BC Hydro power lines.