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Risk perceptions and marine spatial planning surrounding tidal energy in British Columbia Taccogna, Matthew Ryan

Abstract

This thesis examines in-stream tidal energy (ISTE) generation technology and its potential for development, underwater within Discovery Passage, a narrow channel ocean environment near Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada. The study took place in the summer of 2014 and measured levels of support and opposition towards two separate investigative license (IL) ocean energy sites held by a BC developer. The primary approach was to interview expert marine stakeholders and First Nations persons based on their commercial, recreational and cultural usage of the Discovery Passage waterway and its foreshores near the ILs. The study measured subjects’ risk and benefit perceptions of the technology and the projects, levels of support for its development, willingness to pay for it, and any specific conflicts with the developments, both on and under the water. Interactive marine spatial planning (IMSP) and geographic information systems (GIS) were used to elicit respondents’ principle areas of marine usage within the study area, levels of value associated with these areas and seasons of usage. In addition, at the end of the interview, subjects were shown the IL sites on a map and were given the opportunity to indicate areas of perceived conflict between their organizations’ operations and the sites. Results found respondents to be initially strongly in favour of developing tidal energy in BC, with 88% indicating a high levels of support for its development and willingness to pay small amounts for it as part of BC Hydro’s rate increases. However, once the IL sites were shown to the interviewees specifically on a map, levels of support declined and specific opposition to the sites was identified amongst 72% of respondents, indicating highly localized risk perceptions towards the projects. Perceived risks identified by stakeholders included marine traffic interference stemming from installation operations, high costs, cumulative impacts of many turbine installations and tugboat towlines and fishing gear potentially snagging underwater turbines. Identified benefits of tidal energy included local reservoir water conservation from tidal energy generation displacing hydropower water use, local economic development, displacing regional area off-grid diesel generation and achieving more localized electrical generation on Vancouver Island.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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