Sustainable Ocean Applied Research (SOAR) conducts applied ocean research needed for sustainable and resilient coastal communities, with a focus on clean and reliable coastal community power systems energized by fast flowing tidal currents.
We exist at the nexus of ocean users, emerging industries, academic research, and government regulators. That is, working waterfronts in rural coastal Nova Scotia. As such, we are part of coastal communities that are sustained by the ocean.
SOAR is a not-for-profit organization that was established on an island in the Bay of Fundy (Freeport, Long Island, Nova Scotia) in 2018. Lunenburg became our operations base in 2020 to broaden our connections and collaborations, and establish an ocean centre within close reach to the hub of ocean sector activity in Halifax Regional Municipality.
Our facilities and services combine to provide easy access to the coastal ocean for technology development and applied research. This supports innovations needed for sustainable and resilient coastal communities by enabling ocean technology developers and researchers to focus on the core challenges fundamental to their work.
Focus Area Coastal Community Power Systems SOAR focuses on collaborations with local water users, academics, Indigenous organizations, and industry to advance sustainable coastal community power systems through harnessing the fast flowing tidal currents through Grand Passage and Petit Passage in the Digby Region of Nova Scotia.
Members of our Board of Directors have been working extensively in the tidal energy sector since 2008. Our primary focus has been advancing opportunities for community-scale tidal energy, while also supporting larger (utility) scale development at the at the FORCE site in the Minas Passage. Also, Dr. Eric Bibeau (our Board Member with the University of Manitoba) developed and operates the Canadian Hydrokinetic Tidal Test Centre (CHTTC) in the Winnipeg River and has conducted smart grid testing in several communities throughout Canada including with SOAR at Grand Passage.
Research led by SOAR has been important for advancing tools and methods for characterizing the physical and biological environments in high energy tidal channels, as well as the effects of turbine operation including turbulent wakes and interactions with marine animals. We have applied approaches based on local and traditional knowledge, as well as state-of-the art technologies with globally leading researchers to advance technologies and scientific understanding by effectively utilizing resources from several communities and different knowledge systems.
In recent years, our work extended to collaborations with Indigenous Organizations and Academic Institutions in Haida Gwaii, Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin Island), Nunatsiavut (Labrador), Nunatukavut (Labrador), and Ungava Bay. We are active in helping to chart the course forward for tidal energy in Canada.
Board of Directors
SOAR is governed by a Board of Directors who are active in our initiatives, including:
Dr. Eric Bibeau, P.Eng. Dr. Eric Bibeau is an Associate Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Manitoba in the area of renewable energy, involved in R&D in the area of distributed renewable energy systems: biomass, marine, solar, thermal cooling, and wind. He also consults on power supply planning by using energy modelling to implement renewable energy technologies based on local resources. He researches and develops novel energy technologies, and has acquired an excellent technical understanding of the various emerging renewable energy technologies that are currently being developed and their potential for being economically viable. He is working at developing biopower combined heat and power cycles, kinetic turbines, passive cooling, and concentration solar renewable energy technologies. He has authored over 170 technical publications in the last 6 years in renewable energy and has a hands-on overview of current and emerging technologies, research needs, and policy incentives for distributed renewable applications.
Eric is well acquainted with the various barriers to implementing distributed renewable energy systems. Many of his technological insights and understanding were obtained by working on a broad range of industrial energy modelling projects and doing analysis for renewable energy stakeholders. As a consultant he has provided advanced modelling services to provide new improved designs for utility biomass power boilers. He has performance studies on fuel switching, estimated environmental emissions and redesigned air systems to improve thermal boiler performance. He has a strong background in two-phase flows, having performed component testing for nuclear utilities as part of their safety analysis requirements.
Eric currently leads the Canadian Hydrokinetic Turbine Testing Centre to advance marine energy on behalf of the marine industry, contributing to develop technologies to accelerate its cost competitiveness. He develops renewable energy curriculum to teach renewable energy, energy modelling, and energy policies to graduate and undergraduate engineers.
Captain Walter T Flower Walter holds a Master Limited (up to 60 Ton) certification and has decades of experience at sea leading nature tours and marine operations with a fleet of vessels for ocean research and the film industry. Walter has been the owner and operator of Lunenburg Whale Watching Tours since 1989 and is a local leader for marine business in the Lunenburg region. Walter joined SOAR to help revitalize Lunenburg’s working waterfront through increasing activity associated with ocean research and technology development, and provides invaluable knowledge for marine operations and the local marine environment.
William (Billy) Gerhardt William is a local business leader in the Lunenburg region and has owned and operated William A. Gerhardt Property Improvement since 1995, as well as Gerhardt Fleet Tech Service and Gerhardt Trucking since 2018.
William is also heavily involved in Nova Scotia’s film industry through services in set development as well as his on-screen role in The Curse of Oak Island where he is known adoringly by his fans as Billy Gerhardt due to his sincere efforts to hunt the treasure and support his whole team. Billy applied his expertise as a heavy equipment operator and quickly became known for his work on challenging excavations.
William was the recipient of the 2019 Film Crew Excellence Award after being instrumental in transforming Yarmouth’s Cape Forchu into an island from the 1800s for Robert Eggers’ most recent feature film The Lighthouse which screened at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
Dr. Alex Hay Dr. Alex Hay is a professor of Physical Oceanography at Dalhousie University who is recognized nationally and internationally as an expert in acoustical oceanography and sediment dynamics processes in coastal and continental shelf environments. He is a Killam Professor of Oceanography, former NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Ocean Acoustic Technology, and Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America. His research focuses on the development and innovative use of acoustic remote sensing systems for studies of the turbulent bottom boundary layer and the morphological adjustment of the mobile seabed. This research has provided the basis for his current work on turbulence and wave-current-turbulence-seabed interaction in coastal environments, including high-flow tidal channels. Dr. Hay has authored over 110 papers, including publications in Science.
Karlie (Karla) Morash Karlie was born and raised in Blue Rocks in a family that was sustained by the sea. Her father was a Captain at National Sea Products and later an inshore lobster fisherman. She worked with Employment Insurance and DFO implementing The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy and saw firsthand how ocean communities and lives can be devastated by drastic changes in the ocean.
Karlie's professional experience is in production coordination and management in the Nova Scotia Film and Television Industry, including James Cameron's Titanic and Kathryn Bigelow's K-19 The Widowmaker. Between films she worked with local, national and international advertising agencies producing commercials, eventually opening an award-winning advertising production company with two friends. Making a decision to leave Halifax to be closer to her family, Karlie is now the General Manager of Cerca Trova Limited, owners of the world-famous Oak Island, where she has managed exploration activities and is currently preparing to open a new interpretive centre, archives and archaeology lab to support future tours of the island.
Karlie’s current focus areas with SOAR include financial management and effective use of resources to achieve well-defined goals.
Ken Paul, MBA Ken is a member of the Wolastoqey First Nation at Neqotkuk, located in the community of Tobique, NB.
Over the past 11 years, Ken has held the positions as Fisheries Director with the Assembly of First Nations and previously with the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs. Ken has advocated for First Nations regionally, nationally and internationally on all aspects relating to fisheries, aquaculture, ocean protection and aquatic resources as they relate to inherent aboriginal and treaty-protected rights, legislation, and policy. This includes Indigenous Knowledge Systems, economic prosperity, community engagement, shipping, renewable energy and resource management.
Previous to this, he had worked for 10 years with the Canadian Hydrographic Service as a Hydrographic Engineer and Hydrographer-in-Charge of field-based ocean mapping and 10 years with Parks Canada as a Senior Policy Advisor in Atlantic Canada and the Field Unit Superintendent in the Northwest Territories.
Ken has an MBA with St Mary’s University and a B.Sc. from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and has extensive training in leadership, policy development, mediation, labour relations, First Nations governance and traditional teachings.
Ken is a corporate board member of the Ocean Supercluster, the Canadian Integrated Ocean Observing System (CIOOS), and a past board member of the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE).
Among his other initiatives, Ken serves as the Lead Fisheries Negotiator and Research Coordinator for the Wolastoqey Nation of New Brunswick.
Eric Siegel, MBA, M.Sc. Eric has worked in ocean science, technical innovation, and international business for twenty years. He has held director positions in global ocean technology companies leading teams in sales, business development, and advanced manufacturing. Eric is a demonstrated growth leader with extensive experience in North America, Europe, UK, and Asia. Eric serves as the Chief Innovation Officer at Canada’s Ocean Frontier Institute and the Executive in Residence at the Creative Destruction Lab and Ocean Startup Project, as well as Strategic Advisor for international ocean technology companies.
Eric’s early ocean research focused on shelf-slope interactions of the Loop Current on the West Florida Continental Shelf and expanded into bio-physical interactions in West Coast estuaries and the Puget Sound. He moved into industry to enable more innovative ocean observations including novel current, wave and turbulence measurements from ADCPs, with applications in renewable energy, offshore aquaculture, global ocean observing, coastal processes, and hydraulic laboratories. He helped develop and install the first ADCPs on ocean gliders, high-performance CTDs on Argo floats, and more accurate subsea navigation systems on AUVs and ROVs. Eric developed and led several graduate student innovation programs including a decade of the Nortek Student Equipment Grants and the RBR 2020 Cohort.
Eric serves on the UN Ocean Decade Technology & Innovation Informal Working Group and sits on the Board of Directors at Sail Nova Scotia. Eric is trained in physical oceanography, naval architecture and marine engineering, and earned an MBA with a focus on leadership, innovation, and global business. When not helping ocean scientists and companies, Eric is an active sailor, having crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans on his small boats, and is now racing Bluenose Class Sloops with his family in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Greg Trowse, P.Eng., M.Sc. Greg is an oceanographer, professional engineer, entrepreneur, and skipper of two research vessels. As President & CEO of Luna Sea Solutions Inc. (Luna) and a Founding Director of SOAR, Greg’s leadership, applied research, and community work has helped chart the course for tidal energy development in Nova Scotia including establishing tidal passages in the Outer Bay of Fundy as global focal points for innovation and project developments. Greg accomplished this goal by living in the local community and establishing an oceanographic research station that enables substantial cost-effective research in collaboration with industry, not-for-profit organizations, local fishermen, and academic institutions throughout Canada. Greg worked (and/or played) on the water with fishermen on most decent weather days, thus enabling: a) significant learning from local water users, b) opportunities for tidal industry development with several Canadian and International partners, and c) development of Intellectual Property for Luna, which is the basis for recent awards from the Ocean Startup Project and National Research Council.
This was accomplished while living on land and utilizing infrastructure provided by local fisherman. SOAR and Luna remain active in tidal projects in the Bay of Fundy and throughout Canada with primary focus on site characterization, marine operations, and applied research to investigate uncertainties regarding collision risk that prevent tidal energy projects from advancing from tests with single turbines to commercially viable arrays.
Greg is also the Canadian representative on international standards committees (IEC TC 114) for tidal power resource assessment and performance assessment, and is the inventor of LunaTide which is a learning based algorithm for forecasting tidal currents that is part of the IP in www.lunaocean.app (access LunaTide via Layers - Currents - Bay of Fundy).
In 2021, Greg relocated to Lunenburg to be closer to family, surf, and to help develop and operate an ocean centre in rural coastal Nova Scotia. Over the past years Greg has ridden many waves, learned more of the sea, and forged enabling relationships that led to the establishment of the Lunenburg Ocean Centre in August 2023.
Head Office at 160 Bluenose Drive, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia