University of Waterloo

Project Description

Study on the potential for the diffusion of tidal energy generation technology in the Pacific Northwest.

Project Abstract

Acceptance of new products and technologies into well established and profitable markets tends to meet with a high level of resistance from existing entities. The resistance is characterized by a show me, or prove it to me, attitude with respect to the emerging technology. This has been the case for Blue Energy Canada Ltd., in its attempts to commercialize its tidal power technology.
For the past 16 years, Blue Energy has been on the verge of a breakthrough in the electrical energy market. After some early interest and projects, the company has struggled in attracting market interest to effectively grow the company and the technology. Geoffrey Moore (Moore, 1999) has defined this period of time, between the acceptance by early adopters to acceptance by the broader market, as the chasm. According to Moore, emerging high technology companies can prolong the time they spend in the chasm by failing to provide a complete product solution to a segment of their market.
Crossing the chasm requires the innovating company to purposely choose, and set out to dominate, a market segment. This market segment can then be used as a beachhead to garner support in the overall market. This paper investigates remote, coastal communities in the Pacific Northwest (British Columbia, Alaska, Washington and Oregon) as an initial market segment for Blue Energy’s technology. The challenge is to determine the potential for the successful diffusion of the technology into this market place.
With the concerns of global warming and the discussions around Kyoto, there have been several studies that have looked at the diffusion of green power alternatives with respect to the Technology Adoption Life Cycle (Rogers, 1962). However, the studies tend to fall into one of three separate categories: the role of public policy in adoption (Meyer, 1998; Robalino and Lempert, 2000; Thompson and Singh, 1996); correlation of adoptability attributes with market opportunity (Völlink et al, 2002; Bonilla et al, 2003); or, existing/potential green power market size (Bird et al, 2002; Wiser et al, 2001; Hayes, 2002).
While studies of these types are definitely useful, they do not provide insight into how to bring a new renewable energy product into the market assuming current socio-economic conditions. This specific insight requires investigation into how technology diffuses within a social system.

Surveys released for this project:
Tidal Energy Survey 46
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