Developing a holistic framework to investigate the environmental, social, and economic suitability of tidal stream energy in British Columbia’s remote coastal diesel reliant First Nations Communities




Richardson, Riley L.

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This thesis holistically examines the potential for tidal stream turbine (TST) integration to displace diesel generated electricity in remote coastal First Nations communities within the Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast region of British Columbia. This thesis utilizes a combination of spatial analysis (GIS Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis) to identify sites; stakeholder engagement to assess TST suitability, bridge knowledge gaps, and understand desired characteristics of community energy systems; and Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) analyses for existing diesel and externality included scenarios along with potential TST costs in a candidate community. Results illustrate the need for information within these communities, from resource quantification to characteristics of renewable energy technologies and system feasibility; self-sufficiency as being the primary transition driver; and funding/human resource capacity as being substantial barriers. Within the study region ≈89.8 km2 of feasible resource was identified, with ≈22 km2 of potentially suitable tidal resource in proximity to nine communities. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in difficulties contacting and arranging interviews with the most suitable communities. Driven by the holistic research mandate requiring community stakeholder engagement to occur in tandem with the economic analyses, Queen Charlotte Village and Skidegate Landing on Haida Gwaii were chosen as the candidate communities, despite not being the most suitable identified communities. The community interviews revealed TSTs as being an acceptable renewable energy technology. Furthermore, the identified site in Skidegate Inlet (SI) was found to have favourable Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) for TST development. Existing diesel generation carries a LCOE of $0.63/kWh, being $0.08-0.14 more per kWh than the literature cited LCOE range for TSTs. The LCOE for CO2 equivalent externalities at current carbon tax prices was found to be an additional $0.02/kWh. Despite having a technically viable peak spring current speed, the SI site was financially unviable for 284 kW of rated capacity across all diesel LCOE scenarios driven by capacity factor (1.62%), high cabling costs (approximately one third of capital costs), and outdated data/assumptions within the Natural Resources Canada Tidal Project Cost Estimation tool used in the tidal LCOE calculations. This work contributes to the progression of tidal energy development on BCs coast along with demonstrating the utility of holistic assessment frameworks for RETs across environmental, social, and economic considerations. The results of this thesis can inform existing MSP efforts in the Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific region and the framework developed can be built upon and altered for global use in pursuit of sustainable energy transitions.



Tidal energy, Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis, Coastal British Columbia, Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis, Stakeholder engagement, GIS, Renewable energy