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Province PRIMED to help coastal communities get off diesel

April 6, 2023 at 9:58 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

A remote West Coast island is serving as a real-life laboratory for new made-in-B.C. technologies that will help coastal communities transition from diesel fuel to community-owned renewable energy.

“British Columbia has one of the longest and most beautiful coastlines in the world, but more than 50 coastal communities still depend on polluting fossil fuels for heat, light, transportation and industry,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “The University of Victoria’s Blind Channel Test Centre is an innovator in using renewable energy sources like tides, wind and solar, and I‘m so pleased to see this partnership and how it’s helping communities reduce their carbon footprint and protect our oceans for future generations.”

The University of Victoria Pacific Regional Institute for Marine Energy Discovery’s (PRIMED’s) Blind Channel Test Centre is on West Thurlow Island, approximately 35 kilometres northeast of Campbell River. Provincial funding of $2 million will support its research on tidal turbines and other renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and low-carbon hydrogen.

The project will compare these new technologies and test how they perform in conditions on the West Coast, one of the most energetic tidal and wave climates in the world.

PRIMED projects are expected to support diversification of B.C.’s marine power sector, clean-tech job creation, and innovations that can be adopted by coastal communities around the world to support the transition to clean energy. Remote communities that are at greater risk of power disruptions during periods of bad weather can especially benefit from development of local power generation, building resiliency to unexpected events throughout the year.

“Marine renewable technology has incredible potential as a source for clean energy, and B.C. will benefit from investing in the development of wind, wave and tidal energy technologies right here on the West Coast,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “This funding will help continue the incredible and important work of UVic’s PRIMED to develop clean energy technologies for coastal communities and further our electrification plans.”

For nearly 20 years, the PRIMED research lab has been hosted by the Institute for Integrated Energy Systems of Victoria in the University of Victoria’s engineering department. PRIMED is internationally recognized for its work helping off-grid coastal communities and industries find marine renewable energy alternatives to diesel-fuelled power generation.

CleanBC is a pathway to a more prosperous, balanced and sustainable future. It supports government’s commitment to climate action to meet B.C.’s emission targets and build a cleaner, stronger economy for everyone.


Michele Babchuk, MLA, North Island –

“North island communities feel a deep connection to the ocean, and an unwavering responsibility to take care of it. It’s great to see the University of Victoria’s Pacific Regional Institute for Marine Energy Discovery on the leading edge of clean energy research that will help remote communities like West Thurlow Island reduce diesel use, powering them up to be part of the marine economy.”

Lisa Kalynchuk, vice-president, research and innovation, University of Victoria –

“Innovative renewable energy projects have the potential to change the world and partnerships are the key to making it happen. This project takes a novel, community-focused approach to catalyzing energy independence in rural and remote communities throughout B.C. and beyond.”

Brad Buckham, chair, UVic mechanical engineering and co-director, PRIMED –

“B.C.’s coast is blessed with an abundance of renewable tidal power resources that can be harnessed for a clean energy future. Working collaboratively with supportive partners in the public and private sectors, our role at UVic is to design the technology that will lead us to achieving this vision, with many exciting economic, environmental and social benefits for remote, rural and coastal communities throughout our province.

Eliot Richter, president, Blind Channel Resort –

“We’re excited for the opportunity to help facilitate tidal energy technology development. With public support, tidal energy has the potential to become a viable, clean energy solution for small communities like ours and significantly reduce our carbon footprint.”

Quick Facts:

  • The “blue” economy includes many traditional industries: aquaculture and fisheries, global shipping and port activities, and offshore oil and gas activities.
  • West Thurlow Island is part of the Discovery Islands, an archipelago between Vancouver Island and the mainland, whose waters connect the Strait of Georgia with Johnstone Strait and Queen Charlotte Strait.
  • Hosted by UVic’s Institute for Integrated Energy Systems, PRIMED was established to accelerate the development and adoption of marine renewable energy technologies on the B.C. coast, including offshore wind, wave and tidal energy technologies.
  • To achieve this, PRIMED works with provincial and federal funding agencies, local communities and private-sector technology developers.

Learn More:

To learn more about PRIMED, visit:

To learn more about the Innovative Clean Energy Fund, visit: or

To learn more about the CleanBC plan, visit:

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