• Jim Mahannah

TIDAL POWER COMES TO BRITISH COLUMBIA’S RUGGED WEST COAST

Haida Gwaii May Become the Epicenter of Abundant and Sustainable Energy


I first met Clyde Greenough of Yourbrook Energy Systems (YES) at an environmental sustainability conference in Nanaimo, BC, several years ago. A bear of a man, Clyde was charming and his story highly interesting. I discovered he was the chief operating officer of a fledgling sustainable energy company headquartered on the beautiful islands of Haida Gwaii off the coast of northwest British Columbia. What intrigued me the most about Clyde’s story was the thrust of their business – to harness tidal energy to generate electricity and do away with the diesel generator sets in everyday use by remote coastal communities.


Clyde and I kept in touch over the coming months – I found myself fascinated by the business proposition YES was tackling and rooting for them to make good on their dream.


A few weeks ago, as I was thumbing through my LinkedIn feeds, I uncovered some excellent news from Clyde... But first, some background is warranted.


YES focuses on supplanting the fossil-fuel-fired electrical generators that rural and remote communities rely upon for their power supply. The company has developed a proprietary technology to harness the hydrokinetic energy of in-channel tidal currents by employing a unique turbine and pump storage configuration. The following illustration clarifies the process.


Illustration of the tidal/hydro power generation process

The YES technology transforms the energy of cyclic tidal flows to generate a stable source of electricity 24/7 year-round. Such stations can supply baseload power or offer the load-following capacity to significantly reduce or eliminate the need for fossil-fuel-generated electrical power in remote communities.


You can see the YES turbine in action here – HTTP://bit.ly/YES-Tidal-Turbine-In-Action.


YES developed their initial prototype design back in 2010. The following year, the YES team collaborated with J.P. Pinard, Ph.D., P.Eng, to conduct engineering analyses of the tidal/hydro power generating system using computer-modeling techniques.


In 2015, the team built and operated a 1/15 scale prototype within a controlled shop environment to verify performance parameters. By April 2016, the company secured funding through the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) Competitiveness Consulting Rebate with contributions from the Industrial Research Assistance Program Accelerated Review Process (IRAP/ARP) to undertake technical feasibility studies and develop a market assessment plan. Additional IRAP/ARP funding enabled the company to perform initial and secondary sea trials that year.


From mid-2017 to the end of Sept. 2018, the company optimized turbine blade design and controls and corrected initial design flaws. More money flowed to the company in May 2018 from a successful grant application with the NDIT and its Northern Industries Innovation Fund, helping to scale the design and overall process.


YES submitted its design data to staff within the National Research Council (NRC) Oceans, Currents and Rivers Engineering group that resulted in a Testing and Technical Services Agreement with the NRC. The outcome of this collaboration was a 108-page report entitled “Performance Assessment and CFD Analysis of Yourbrook Energy Tidal Power Plant Technical Report,” NRC-OCRE-2019-TR-025 May 2019.


Accompanying the technical development process, cultural concerns raised by the Council of Haida Nations and the hereditary chiefs over Yourbrook’s planned expansion of its Juskatla Narrows site forced the company to seek an alternative location. With the agreement of the parties concerned, the Kamdis project site was selected, initiating a new round of permitting, including the Cultural Features Identification study.



Satellite view of tidal power demonstration site

Yourbrook’s primary target customer is BC Hydro, British Columbia’s largest electrical utility that supplies the power for Haida Gwaii’s North Grid. After many years of persistent effort, the YES team was understandably delighted to announce in March 2021 the 500-kilowatt Kamdis Tidal Power Demonstration Project with an inter-grid connection to the North Grid – the perfect setting to showcase their technology to the world.


BC Hydro, along with the Council of the Haida Nation, the Skidegate Band Council and the Old Massett Village Council, have agreed to include the Kamdis Project as one of four solutions to overcome Haida Gwaii’s ‘dirty little secret’ – the consumption of 7.3 million liters of diesel fuel to generate the power for the North Grid.

Further, YES now has all the approvals in place to begin extensive current profiling of the site. The company will employ their Sontek 75 acoustic doppler current profiler to measure the speed of tidal currents in depth increments of 1 meter within the water column, a critical prerequisite for the geotechnical and engineering design work that precedes the construction of the demonstration project.


Clyde Greenough was quick to clarify just what’s at stake. He states:

Having tidal power recognized by BC Hydro and the local community as part of the solution to the fossil fuel problem is ground-breaking. Tidal energy, especially in BC, has not been recognized for its potential to contribute to the green economy, and this could be the first big step. We feel that we can produce power cheaper than the incumbent diesel, saving the taxpayer money in fuel subsidies, coupled with a huge reduction in GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions and less tanker traffic up and down BC’s notoriously rough coastal waters.


He also points out that the Kamdis project will create 30 to 40 construction jobs and six to eight full-time employment positions operating the facility.


Clyde and the entire Yourbrook team are big believers in their tidal energy technology and expect the outcome of the Kamdis project will allow them to build, license and sell their proven concept. It’s no stretch to believe the time draws near when these persistent entrepreneurs will take their business to the world stage.


Yourbrook Energy invites readers to learn more about the company and its news by visiting www.yourbrookenergy.com or contacting info@yourbrookenergy.com.

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Jim Mahannah is the principal copywriter for That Cleantech Copywriter. Applying his engineering and cleantech business background, he writes marketing, educational and technical content for clean technology companies seeking to grow their business. He can be reached at jim@ThatCleantechCopywriter.com or by visiting www.ThatCleantechCopywriter.com.