For over 35 years, British Columbia companies have been at the leading edge of research and commercial development of advanced ocean technologies. A recent CBC article
celebrating Phil Nuytten's underwater innovations highlighted the achievements in ocean technology coming out of the province. Phil Nuytten’s creations have been used by NASA, National Geographic and filmmaker James Cameron, and they have helped inspire and further the progress of submersibles in B.C. and the world.
One company, the Canadian Submersible Facility (CSSF)
from North Saanich, is exploring new depths of scientific progress. For the past quarter century, CSSF have been refining the Remotely Operated Platform for Ocean Sciences, nicknamed ROPOS. The robotic submersible can now go to depths of 5,000 metres, transmit live-stream high-definition video and collect samples for later analysis. It’s currently crawling the floor of the Gulf of St. Lawrence
, where it has captured video of marine life that until now has eluded such exposure.
The engineering that keeps ROPOS from being crushed by the weight and pressure of the depths has evolved in the last quarter century. It’s the kind of innovation that could lead to undersea colonies like the ones Phil Nuytten imagined – and while we have yet to set up permanent residence on the ocean floor, we do have a much better understanding of it thanks to ROPOS.
Meanwhile, on the surface, waves are generating power. A recent report
identified the west coast of Vancouver Island as the ideal place to test wave energy conversion technology
. The coast sees world-famous storm waves (think Tofino storm-watching tourism) and those waves carry significant energy. While it is still too expensive to make wave energy a viable utility power source, B.C. is positioned to set up strategic test sites – such as remote coastal communities that currently rely on diesel - where researchers could develop technology that might make wave power competitive in the future.
Wave energy is still very underdeveloped, but it has advantages over other green energy sources – it is predictable, carries massive generative force and functions during seasons when solar energy sources may be less abundant. Researchers are working to develop the infrastructure to test, operate and maintain these technologies locally, so B.C. can leverage its natural competitive advantage and become a significant player in the global marine energy market.
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