Noticeably Darker Day

Today was more of a fall day with cooler temperatures and a threat of rain in the air. Light levels were way down too. The barometer rose to 1014 hPA from a low of 1010 yesterday and it has just started to fall again. Rain and east winds of up to 25 knots are predicted to bring tomorrow’s forecasted rain, with a cool, wet outlook for the week ahead.

Thirteen visits to the protected area, by whale watching vessels, were observed today. Only one pleasure craft was noted.

There was a lot of cetacean action in and around Race Rocks for most of the day. It started with two big, bull, Biggs Killer Whales (Transients), travelling in from the west on the Rosedale side. They were later spotted in Race Passage and not long after an adult female Killer Whale was seen well inside the reserve by Turbine Rock. There were two Humpback Whales, one feeding just east of Race Rocks that moved west through Race Passage. It had a definite white splotch on the right fluke. The other one was feeding just west and had dark flukes, the same one, I think, that has been around for a while. There was also a Minke Whale feeding just to the south of Race Rocks.

Accumulated solar radiation levels today were less than half of what they have been for the last few days, 150 versus 300 to 350 Langleys and the days are getting noticeably shorter, faster now. Migrant species are moving through the reserve daily with hundreds of Surf Scoters moving through from west to east every day. All three species of cormorants are using the rocks here as roosts now and feeding in the multi-species flocks that surround the reserve with much commotion. This change into autumn not only impacts the biodiversity of the reserve but also has an impact on practical things like power generation.

Solar power has been producing over 90% of the power needed to run everything on the island and that amount will change over the next few months. Right now the shortfall is made up with a diesel generator but the plan is to move to cleaner burning propane in the near future. A great deal of progress has been made in reducing the amount of fuel stored and used here, from the days of the Coast Guard when there were six giant diesel tanks dominated the rock and the generators ran 24/7. A big shout goes out to Pearson College, for both reducing the ecological footprint in terms of CO2 and for reducing the risk of a spill.

Generating History

High clouds settled in today and there were even a few minute raindrops for a short time in the late morning and early evening. Hazy marine air was evident along the coast to Victoria while across on the American side, it looked like it might really be raining in the Elwha Valley, Olympic National Park. The barometer continues its slow slide, which started last Thursday. The westerly wind is forecast again for tomorrow and it has already started.

A Humpback Whale feeding and resting to the south of the rocks and Killer Whales to the west, continued to draw whale–watching boats from Victoria and a total of 22 were noted in the Ecological Reserve today, mostly observing pinnipeds (Steller’s and California Sea Lions, Harbour and Elephant Seals). One commercial, charter, fishing boat also stopped by to watch the sea lions.

One of the Brown Pelicans came back today and some members of the Victoria Historical Society group saw it on their way out to the island. Three groups of twelve people each had historical tours of Race Rocks today.

The historians were very interested in Garry Fletcher’s on-site presentations about the history of Great Race Island, the 500 year-old plus, indigenous rock cairns and the 154 year history of the Lighthouse. Race Rocks is designated as a heritage site but that only means it is registered in Ottawa, not offered any conservation protection. The Race Rocks Ecological Reserve protects Race Rocks’ biodiversity and natural history and is part of BC Parks, but it does not include human history.

Federal law passed specifically three years ago to protect historical lighthouses does not apply to the six original Imperial Lighthouses, of which this is one. Race Rocks  light-tower pre-dates the confederation of Canada and it is the only stone-constructed light tower and one of a handful of standing stone structures this old, in western Canada. It needs protection. You can learn more about its’ fascinating history through this web-site under history. There is even historical video footage of the demolition of the historic, granite, light-keeper’s house in the 1960s by bulldozer and explosives. Fisgard Light which was completed six weeks before Race Rocks is a much less impressive brick tower and is endowed with full heritage protection by Parks Canada.

With 37 visitors to attend to, I did not spend much time making ecological observations today. I did a few maintenance chores before they arrived, washing windows, sweeping the main walk-way with an historical broom and weed-eating around the fly wheels of an old Fairbanks-Morse engine from the turn of the last century, with an historical weed-eater from late in the last century. There are quite a few pieces of old Fairbanks-Morse machinery lying around that could be of historical interest. Here is a YouTube link to a similar 1906 Fairbanks-Morse engine, running. What a beast. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTiK2B88EJs

My last tasks of the day are to move deionized water, delivered with the guests by Courtney on MV Second Nature, up to the energy building, and to make fresh water with the desalinator, while the historic Lister generator tops up the batteries which are powered mostly by solar panels.

Blustery

It was a blustery day dominated by the west wind today and with the wind came some cloud cover and cooler maritime air. The barometer rose slightly and then started to drop late in the day. It is likely that we will get both fog and showers tomorrow.

I saw Killer Whales off to the southwest, early, but only had glimpses and wasn’t able to identify them. Whale watching was down to a dull roar with only seven commercial whale-watching boats noted in the reserve today. There was no illegal fishing activity and only one recreational boat that came in to watch the sea lions.

These young Steller's Sea Lions have been wrestling for hours and are taking a break here without either conceding defeat.

These young Steller’s Sea Lions have been wrestling for hours and are taking a break here without either conceding defeat.

The bigger, young, male Steller’s Sea Lions spend hours each day practicing their sparring skills as they try to grab the other by the throat or hold the head of their opponent down through brute force. This activity usually happens in the shallow water next to the haul-out, so they are actually moving around on the rocks underneath them but in the water. It appears to be all in good fun and involves a lot of lunging, avoidance, feints, attacks and parrying. All good practice for when they are big enough to haul out on the breeding grounds and fight with more grim determination to hold their ground and pass their genes on to the next generation.

Brown Pelicans blown in by the westerly winds.

One of the Brown Pelicans blown in by the westerly winds and a young gull.

The west wind blew in four Brown Pelicans today and their arrival seemed to herald a change of season. They were buffeted by the heavy winds and didn’t stay for long.

Other visitors today included the electrician and his assistant/daughter(?) and her friend, who would like to be an eco-guardian some day. The electrician was tilting up the last row of the flat solar panels and inspecting the solar-powered system.

Solar panels provide much of the electricity used on the island and the generator is just used to top-up the batteries. The plan is to add wind generation, which would further enhance sustainable, off-grid, power generation. There is certainly enough wind.

Tidal Energy Turbine Removal

September 17, 2011: Clean Current Staff and diving contractors return to remove the generator for the last time. The generator returns to Vancouver for a final analysis of structural details after exposure in the ocean over the last three years . After cleaning it is to be sent to the Museum of Science and technology in Ottawa, since it was the first ocean tidal generator to be built and deployed in Canada.

rmsept1711wideshot The location of the tidal current turbine was just to the north of the Middle islands in the centre of the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve .
rmsept17secnat Erik and Chris from Pearson College and Garry arrive on site in Second nature and moor alongside.
rmsept1711turbineup Dive boat and tug after the turbine is raised.

The process of removal starts with the barge Lena Marie positioned above the turbine waiting for slack water.

gfsept17waitatrr

 

 

 

gf2diversept1711 gfdiversept1711 rmsept17diver gfcrewsept1711
Divers prepare for descending to make preparations for lifting the generator Passing lines to the divers to stabilize the turbine for lifting A hard hat diver was deployed to remove the bolts fastening the generator to the piling.( RM photo) The crew waits on board the Lena Marie as the winch hook is lowered for attachment.
gfsept17below gfsept1711control gfchristendsept1711 gfcomeup1sept1711
First signs of the generator subsurface. Clean Current staff controlling the lifting. Chris Blondeau tending the hard hat diver. The generator breaks the surface
gfturbine2sept1711 gfsept1711turbine2 gfsept1711topside gfcfullview2sept1711
As it emerges, the fouling organisms from the last three years appear. View of the turbine as the tidal generator comes out of the water. The predominant macroalgae covering the structure was Laminaria groenlandica. Lifting operation complete
gfsept1711redalgae2 gfsept1711ryan gfsept17rrthru gfbdavidson
Several red algaes also grow on the structure. Ryan in the station boat and some curious whale watchers. Race Rocks through the generator as it heads back to Pearson College. Tug operator Bruce Davidson seen through the central hole of the generator.
gfsept17lenamarie gfsept17erik gfsept17atcollege gfsept1711redalgae
Moored back at the college awaiting transfer to Vancouver. Erik fastens straps to secure the blades for transport. Lester Pearson College docks with the generator docked alongside. Some images of the fouling organisms, part of the ecological succession on the turbine.
gfsept17sponge gfbarnac1 gfsept18orangebarnac1 gfsept18snail2
A yellow sponge, probably Mycale toparoki Very large barnacles that were not Balanus nubilus, but perhaps Semibalanus carriosus were common on the surface. A unique encrustation of hydroids on a single barnacle. Samples of the many hydroid species were taken by Garry for further identification in the lab. Interesting colour morphs of Nucella canaliculata

Images by Garry Fletcher

n conclusion: The Tidal Current Generator operation over the past six years has been an interesting experiment and a good demonstration of the potential power from tidal energy. The value to the Race Rocks program has been largely in the infrastructure that has been developed and installed and the potential for further research. The provision now of most of the energy needs by solar power was only made possible by the large bank of storage batteries provided by the project, the island energy building electrical infrastructure and the partnership with the BC Ministry of Mines and energy which were instrumental in providing the initial solar panels.

Only one student project was developed as a result of the turbine, and this was an analysis of an experiment by Clean Current of the power generation capacity of the generator by Connor Scheu and Wouter Zwart in 2009. In that report, the advantages of the exercise to the company are indicated.

However, due to problems with fibre optic cable malfunctioning and electrical cable leakage, the ability of the generator operate continuously and to provide significant power for the Integrated Energy system at Race Rocks was very limited. It did serve as an adequate base for testing structural materials, and Clean Current provided ongoing support to the Race Rocks program while the turbine was installed.

Garry Fletcher, Race Rocks Ecological Reserve warden

Tidal Current Energy Experiment Comes to an End.

September 17, 2011: Clean Current Staff and diving contractors return to Race Rocks to remove the generator for the last time. The generator returns to Vancouver for a final analysis of structural details after exposure in the ocean over the last three years . After cleaning,  it is to be sent to the Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa, since it was the first ocean tidal generator to be built and deployed in Canada.

“In conclusion: The Tidal Current Generator operation over the past six years has been an interesting experiment and a good demonstration of the potential power from tidal energy.  The added value to the availability of energy for Race Rocks  was however very disappointing.

The main value to the Race Rocks program has been in the infrastructure that has been developed and installed and the potential for further research. The provision now of most of the energy needs by solar power was only made possible by the large bank of storage batteries provided by the project, the island energy building electrical infrastructure and the partnership with the BC Ministry of Mines and energy which were instrumental in providing the initial solar panels.  Installation of further solar panels and upgrades by Lester Pearson College UWC has helped to ensure energy sustainability for Race Rocks.

–Garry Fletcher

 

Race Rocks Tidal Turbine Generator

Connor Scheu and Wouter Zwart April 2, 2009 . Race Rocks Tidal Turbine GeneratorUWCpearsoncollegeicon

Background:

Ed note: Connor communicated with Russ Stothers of Clean Current for his project;

“Here is a simple synopsis of the project I will be doing this week. It is called a group four project (which pertains to the experimental science department here at the college), and the theme for everyones project is resource allocation/sustainability. Every student has to decide upon a project in which they will research something in this area. This usually involves the identification of a question, and then variables, presented in a lab format and accompanied by a presentation, but not overly formal. Continue reading

Puget Sound Partnership-Pearson College Participates

On February 8-11th, 2009, Ryan Murphy, Race Rocks Ecoguardian and resident marine scientist, attended with students Adam Harding and Radu Macovei, the Puget Sound, Georgia Basin Ecosystem Conference in Seattle– Our thanks to Conference Co-Chair Chris Townsend for inviting Lester Pearson College to participate. The following is an excerpt from the conference website.See the Proceedings of the Conference: http://depts.washington.edu/uwconf/psgb/proceedings/table_of_contents.html

“The biennial Puget Sound Georgia Basin Ecosystem Conference is the largest, most comprehensive scientific research and policy conference in the Salish Sea region. The 2009 conference, hosted by the Puget Sound Partnership and Environment Canada, built upon the experience of previous conferences by connecting scientific research and management techniques to priorities for meaningful action. The 2009 conference theme was The Future of the Salish Sea: A Call to Action. Since 2003, the conference has moved from chronicling science research to exploring the science/policy interface. The 2009 conference theme captured this progression from sound science to informed action. Conference participants had the opportunity to apply shared knowledge by developing priorities and a commitment to post-conference engagement.
Conference sub-themes included:
Air Quality & Climate Change
Ecosystem Management Strategies and Techniques
Habitat, Land Use, and Species
Marine & Freshwater Resources “

Adam Harding presented The Pearson College-EnCana-Clean Current Tidal Power Demonstration Project at Race Rocks

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/designer_psp/collections/72157613549032493/
Videos:
http://www.psp.wa.gov/videos/mediaplayer/video_library_psgb.php
Publications:
http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2009/2/10/145023/460
http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2009/2/6/16054/64735

 

adam

A video from the Puget Sound Partnership Conference with Adam Harding presenting the Call to Action in the Day 3 Closing Session. Click to start.
For the complete set of video of the plenary sessions see this link:
http://www.psp.wa.gov/videos/mediaplayer/video_library_psgb.php

 

 

Adam Harding’s Presentation at Puget Sound Georgia Basin Ecosystem Conference, 2009

 

ADAM HARDING, LESTER B PEARSON COLLEGE OF THE PACIFIC/RACE ROCKS ECOLOGICAL RESERVE TIDAL ENERGY SESSION: PROCEEDINGS

The Pearson College-EnCana-Clean Current Tidal Power Demonstration Project at Race Rocks

Introduction

“Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific is a unique two year pre-university school for two hundred students selected from around the world based solely on their personal merit, potential and demonstrated commitment to engage actively in creating a better world. All students attend on a full scholarship and live together while studying the International Baccalaureate program and pursuing explicitly the mission of the United World Colleges to make education a ‘force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future’” (Pearson College 2009).

While at the College, students have the unique opportunity to help manage Race Rocks Ecological Reserve, located 15 minutes south of the college by boat, or 22 kilometres (10 nautical miles) southwest of Victoria. Race Rocks contains an amazing diversity of life – terrestrial, avian and marine, benthic and pelagic. The set of islands also have great historical, cultural and anthropological significance. The lighthouse was constructed in 1860 to help mariners navigate the treacherous waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait, and for centuries, First Nations people have used the islands as a rich marine resource. 2000 year old burial cairns on Great Race Rock stand as a testament to this.

Currently, Race Rocks is managed on a 30 year lease from BC Parks by Pearson College. Students and faculty at Pearson College play crucial role, from conservation efforts to research and development, to storing decades long records and raising funding for the Reserve. The College also employs a full time Eco-Guardian who maintains a human presence on the Reserve.

The traditional energy system

Electricity at Race Rocks is, and always has been, and important resource needed for the complex computer system with integrated weather data and remote controlled cameras allowing for all to view the island with no ecological footprint. It is also needed to support the full time Eco-Guardian who maintains a human presence on the Reserve.

Electricity at Race Rocks has traditionally been generated by two fixed, 15kW diesel generators. However, when Pearson College took over management in 1997, operating costs were passed onto the College. These costs were originally CAD $11 000 a year; however, this soon rose to CAD $20 000/year.

Environmental impacts were also great: at about 50 000L/year marine grade diesel combustion, the system contributed 133.5 tonnes/year of CO2 to the atmosphere. This figure does not include the emissions associated with extraction, refinement and transportation. Also, the possibility of an equipment failure during transport, pumping of fuel oil across the island or combustion in the generators could have a significant ecological impact if fuel ever escaped from the system.

Page1of4

ADAM HARDING, LESTER B PEARSON COLLEGE OF THE PACIFIC/RACE ROCKS ECOLOGICAL RESERVE TIDAL ENERGY SESSION: PROCEEDINGS

Generator noise was also a concern—the impacts of noise on communicative behaviour on animals and birds are not fully known, although it can be speculated that there may be an impact on predator response capability and mating/nesting behaviour. Furthermore, the diesel tanks, although adhering to environmental standards, are vulnerable in an earthquake, and severe weather and tidal currents common to the area would make containment of a spill impossible.

The Pearson College – EnCana-Clean Current Tidal Power Demonstration

Project at Race Rocks

In 2001, A feasibility study conducted by master’s program candidate Taco Niet through the Institute of Integrated Energy Systems at the University of Victoria identified that “sufficient renewable resources (tidal, wind and solar) were available to develop an integrated energy system that was capable of providing a reliable power supply to Race Rocks” and that, “tidal energy would have the least environmental impact due to the size of the system required and would provide the most reliable power source with the least amount of required storage” (Niet and McLean 2001).

In 2005, EnCana Corporation sponsored Clean Current Power Systems Incorporation of Vancouver to build, install, operate and monitor a 65kW free-stream tidal generator in 13 metres of water at Race Rocks. Thus, the Pearson College-EnCana-Clean Current Tidal Power Demonstration Project at Race Rocks was born. From January to September 2006, drilling, piling installation and cable laying for the turbine took place in the water surrounding the Reserve. Then, on September 27, 2006 the turbine was delivered and finally installed at Race Rocks. For the first time, the islands fell silent as the generators ceased operation.

In January 2007, 38 solar panels delivering 6.5kW of electricity in total were installed on the roof of the Integrated Energy Center. They were funded by a grant from the BC Ministry of Mines and Energy.

In April 2007, the turbine removed from the water for upgrades. The generators began operation again. Then, on October 17, 2008, the turbine was reinstalled at Race Rocks. Upgrades included stainless steel bearings, a new lubricating system with environmentally friendly lubricants, a new electrical wire protection system, better blade configuration, reinforced augmenter duct and ring, and reinforced central struts.

This new deployment will enable a further test of the seaworthiness of the turbine. Perfecting the structure and its operation in difficult ocean conditions is the goal of the experimental phase of the project. However, although the turbine is mounted in the water, it is not currently generating electricity. Upgrades are being completed in the land-based system of the project (the starter motor is being replaced). It is hoped that operations should begin soon. The idea will be to start slowly by running the turbine for a few hours each day, then slowly increasing the amount of time it is run for until it is fully operational.

Page2of4

ADAM HARDING, LESTER B PEARSON COLLEGE OF THE PACIFIC/RACE ROCKS ECOLOGICAL RESERVE TIDAL ENERGY SESSION: PROCEEDINGS

Environmental impacts of the tidal energy program

A report by Archipelago Marine Research Ltd. (AMR) in 2006 identified environmental impacts of the tidal turbine project before construction, during construction and after construction. During construction, AMR notes that “Overall results from these observations suggested that there was very little impact on the wildlife within the Reserve” (Archipelago Marine Research 2006).

After construction (data collected 45 days after drilling), AMR notes that there were some ongoing impacts from dredging that extend 20 metres along the cable route and west along the direction of tidal flow. Also present are some exposed areas of bedrock and clay. Organisms had begun to inhabit the submarine cable exterior. Some evidence is present that the cable anchor block had dislodged giant acorn barnacles, although the impact was very limited and localised. There was no impact to vegetation or other sensitive invertebrate species (Archipelago Marine Research 2006).

It is not fully known at this time what impact the turbine itself has on the organisms, especially cetaceans and pinnipeds. However, Glen Darou, president and CEO of Clean Current Power Systems Inc., and other experts note that the effect is negligible, as “The only things that can swim in fast moving currents are things that can”; that is, they will be able to manoeuvre around it (Dove 2008). At a spin of roughly 60 rpm with no suction, there is little threat to organisms. It is hoped to install a camera on the turbine someday to monitor how animals react to it and the low hum it produces.

The future

Glen Darou, president and CEO of Clean Current Power Systems Inc., notes that “We believe it is highly exportable technology, with strong potential to succeed in international settings” (Skilling 2005). And more recently, “A 200-tonne turbine is being developed for the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia…Some European countries are starting to take interest” (Dove 2008). Clean Current is also working on turbines for shallow tidal areas or rivers that would be able to fit on a flatbed truck and could be plugged in on land.

However, Race Rocks won’t be Clean Current’s laboratory forever. Eventually Pearson College and BC Parks will be responsible for the turbine.

In the meantime, the Race Rocks Tidal Energy Generator has been an immense success. At Race Rocks, we are now able to generate electricity from a renewable source, negating the huge traditional energy system concerns. And for the students of Pearson College, the turbine is a huge learning experience; with students from 100 countries around the world, the turbine serves as a unique demonstration of the potential for alternative energy. Highly committed citizens of the world, Pearson students will take their experiences with the tidal turbine to their home countries when they leave Canada. Hopefully, some will put these ideas into action, developing alternative energy sources in their own countries.

Page3of4

ADAM HARDING, LESTER B PEARSON COLLEGE OF THE PACIFIC/RACE ROCKS ECOLOGICAL RESERVE TIDAL ENERGY SESSION: PROCEEDINGS

Bibliography

Dove, Amy. “Harnessing power from the ocean.” Goldstream News Gazette, October 22, 2008.
“Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific.” Lester B. Pearson United World College of the

Pacific. http://www.pearsoncollege.ca (accessed 5 March 2009).

Niet, T, McLean, G. “Race Rocks Sustainable Energy Development.” Paper presented at 11th Canadian Hydrographic Conference, Victoria, British Columbia, June 2001.

Skilling, David. EnCana partners to enable Pearson College-EnCana-Clean Current Tidal Power Demonstration Project at Race Rocks, BC. Press release by Lester B. Pearson College, Victoria, British Columbia, February 25, 2005.

“Summary Report on Environmental Monitoring Related to the Pearson College-EnCana-Clean Current Tidal Power Demonstration Project at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve.” Final report by Archipelago Marine Research, Victoria, British Columbia, December 2006.

Page4of4

You may also access this in the PDF: 1E_Adam Harding

Also available :taken from the website: http://depts.washington.edu/uwconf/psgb/proceedings/papers/p5_hardi.pdf

Tidal Current Energy Demonstration Project: Renewable Energy for Race Rocks

Energy Minister.jpg ENCANA Media Coverage of this story in the Pearson College LINK
Press Release:
ENCANA Partners to enable Pearson College- ENCANA – Clean Current Tidal Power Demonstration Project at Race Rocks Feb 25, 2005
Complete Video Coverage of the Announcement at Pearson College TV and Print Media coverage
of the event
BACKGROUNDER: Link to the news release

Stephen HarperPrime Minister Stephen Harper visits Race Rocks and Pearson College for an “ecoEnergy announcement”. January 19, 2007
tidalturbinrPresentation at the European Commission Coordinated Action on Ocean Energy (CA-OE)Workshop on Environmental, Economics, Development Policy, and Promotion of Opportunities, Copenhagen, Denmark 26-27 April 2007

 

 


Environmental Impact Monitoring of the Tidal Energy Project.

 

 

 

Video on Tidal Turbine Project

Video on the Pearson College, EnCana, Clean Current Tidal Power Demonstration Project at Race Rocks
END of Tidal Energy project and removal of Turbine

 

 

Cable Laying Aug 2006

Update on Activities at Race Rocks on the Pearson College- ENCANA – Clean Current Tidal Power Demonstration Project and the Integrated Energy Project.

 

 

link to Taco Niet

History and Background Information
on the Alternate Energy Project at Race Rocks.

 

 

abiotic file

Tidal Currents as an Abiotic Factor In the Race Rocks Ecosystem

 

 

J de F currents

Strait of Juan de Fuca currents and tides Link

 

 

 

oldenergyTraditional Energy Generation
By Diesel Oil at Race Rocks .
Environmental Impacts of the Existing Diesel Powered Generator

 

 

 

Solar energy investigation

The Solar Energy Component of the Integrated Energy System at Race Rocks

 

 

 

Davis Weather Instrument

the Environmental Data page with links to weather station and underwater physical factors.

 

 

 

 

powscurrspeed-300x213

Connor Scheu and Wouter Zwart April 2, 2009 the outputs of energy from the system.

 

 

turbineinspectVideo on turbine inspection before removal, Jun,2011

 

 

 

Artists Concept

 

The Tidal Current Energy Project at Race Rocks

This video is a compressed version of the one produced by Brainstorm for the Tidal Current Power Project. It documents the partners and the process along the way in the establishment of the Turbine Project . (released January 19, 2007 to correspond with the visit of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Lester Pearson College and Race Rocks.)

See other archived video with Pearson College Divers