Masset resident has novel tidal power idea

  • Jan. 26, 2007 7:00 p.m.

By Charlotte Tarver–The fossil fuel generation of electricity on the islands has bothered Robert Baker of Masset for over 20 years. He thought about different ways to produce electricity and ultimately came up with an idea on how to supply cost-effective electricity that would have few environmental impacts. Mr. Baker believes tidal power is the way to go and Masset Inlet is the perfect place. His idea is different than other tidal power systems. It uses tidal currents to drive a series of floating pumps that will carry sea water up to a reservoir on land. The reservoir would store the water to power conventional hydro-electric turbines to provide electric power to a local grid. “It is theoretical, no systems are in place,” Mr. Baker said. “Since 2002, I’ve put hundreds of hours into developing my idea.” He sent his plan to BC Hydro, “but they wouldn’t support it, said it is not a viable option,” he said. “BC Hydro has rigid parameters and not willing to go with new technology.” He believes his method would overcome the disadvantages of four other tidal power methods. The floating pumps would be less destructive to the environment than a tidal fence and more dependable than wave action generators. “I recently discovered my plan is not new, a Japanese company has had a patent on it since 1953, but no one has built one,” said the digital electronics engineer who has a business building and selling computers in Masset. “I’ve looked for people who are doing this kind of project and sent them information,” he said. “I don’t have the resources to put in the system…it would take 5 years and $7-million to develop.”. Baker’s website link has detailed drawings and information on how to build his system. He has someone in Masset who would let him build a sea water reservoir on private property. “The idea needs someone who knows how to raise capital and find investors.” He urges anyone who is interested in developing new sources of power here to check out his website at,