There are places along the east side of Vancouver Island that are structured like giant Venturi tubes, choke points where tidal currents get funneled in, producing powerful, even dangerous flows. There are places where fishing boats and orcas alike gather, waiting for the tide to change so they can dash through these narrows. Some of these flows are so powerful that they generate whirlpools big enough that, in the past, they were known to capsize unwary trawlers and send them to the bottom.
Even without the tides, the Pacific Ocean current sweeps these channels, funneled in through the Queen Charlotte Strait.
That's all energy. Free energy. Reliable as the moon itself. Two high tides, two low tides every day without fail. I've travelled through some of these spots in small boats and have marvelled at the awesome power that nature displays.
That's why I was excited to read at Grist.org today of an experimental tidal power project underway in Washington's Peuget Sound. The idea is for turbines to be placed on the seabed where they won't obstruct navigation and grabbing that energy as it passes by. This illustration gives an idea of the concept.
The project, a joint venture of the University of Washington and the Oregon State University is about to begin trials. If it works as well as expected it's hard to see why this same technology can't be put in place all the way from Quadra Island to the Queen Charlotte Straits. There's an almost unimagineable amount of energy that flows through all those narrows every day.