Wave Power Potential In Australia

The CSIRO recently released a report on the potential for wave power in Australia. Australia's southern coastline has been identified by the World Energy Council as one of the world's best sites for generating wave power.

The report (pdf) shows that if 10 per cent of the energy available from waves was harnessed it would meet half of the nation's current electricity consumption. "Averaged over the whole year, Australia's southern coastline has a sustained wave energy resource of 146 gigawatts (1,329 terawatt-hours/year)" - three times Australia's total installed generation capacity.

The author of the study, Dr Mark Hemer, notes wave power is still a decade or two away from being a real force as an alternative energy. "Wave energy really is a baby at the moment - there's currently only about four megawatts of wave energy generating capacity installed globally. If you compare that to wind energy, there's about 200,000 megawatts of installed capacity, or 50,000 times more, so wave energy is a long way behind on the cost learning curve."

Australia's longest running pilot wave power program has been run by Oceanlinx in Wollongong for number of years, but the latest incarnation recently suffered a setback when it was damaged by a storm. Oceanlinx are also looking to participate in the UK's "wave hub" program in Cornwall.

The other company aggressively pursing wave power opportunities in Australia is Perth based Carnegie Wave Energy, which has a plant operating in WA and is looking to build another in Eden, NSW.

The other major source of ocean energy available to Australia is tidal power.

One major backer of tidal power in northern Australia was Wilson Tuckey (who lost his seat in the recent federal election. While Tuckey's dreams of tidal power in the Kimberly region remain unrealised, NT News has a report on a tidal power project proposed nearby in the northern territory by Tenax Energy in the Clarence Strait.

Another Australian tidal power hopeful, Atlantis Resources, seems to have shifted offshore entirely, recently unveiling the world's largest tidal turbine for testing in Scotland.

Cross posted from Peak Energy.

The ocean is an extremely harsh environment and the open ocean where wave generators have to be placed is a cruel place.Cost and reliability are the killing factors here and that should be obvious to any person who is not blinded by the technocopian mindset.

Tidal power generation has the same problems with cost and reliability but at least it can be used in sheltered waters.That still does not make it a practical proposition.

As for Ironbar Tuckey,what more can I say except - RIP.

Hmmm - well, the La Rance plant has been working fine for 40 years, but go ahead and believe what you like...

Interestingly though, after 40 years, there has not been a rush to replicate the La Rance Plant. Might have something to do with averaging only 68MW from a full capacity of 240 MW.

Tidal estuary capture and release schemes also cause a lot of environemtnal damage up stream, such as increased salination, so thay are far from completley benign. There is also limite geographical locations where they make a good case. The Kimberly may be technicallly feasible but they seem to have plenty of gas up there and after thats all gone, there will be nobody living there that needs a huge tidal electricty scheme anyway. And no, there will not be a national super conducting grid to bring a lousy 100MW or so to the southern states.

The Atlantis AK1000 is impressive, although it is a huge sucker for 1MW and it doesn't look cheap. A string of these across southern Aus coast from Adelaide to Melbounre might be feasible but transmission losses would preclude it from stretching right across the Bight I would think. It would be intersting to know what depth they operate at, if they pose a hazard for shipping etc.

Its also interesting that people forget that the last 40 or so years have seen an abundance of cheap oil, coal and gas! That might have more to do with it than the energy output... I mean by that argument the whole industrial revolution MIGHT never have started... I mean who would have bothered with all those water and wind mills with such low power outputs... the precursors to the subsequent steam revolution.

While the machine is big it is ~ 1/3 - 1/4 the height of an equivalent rated wind turbine and has a swept area 20 times smaller. It my seem heavy at 1000 tonnes, but compare that to the dead weight of a super tanker, 200,000 - 600,000 tonnes... ships which do not regularly fall apart in the North Sea.

Also, this is a tidal device and would therefore not be used on the south coast of Oz which the report in the article assessed for wave power potential.

We need not mention the superconducting red herring/straw man.

Cost and reliability are the killing factors here and that should be obvious to any person who is not blinded by the technocopian mindset.

It'll never fly!

Typical childish comment,SP.I suspect that an extended holiday in Pakistan would be therapeutic for you.

Ah yes, the omniscient thirra once again assumes knowledge of my character... ignoring his own childish behaviour and constant denigrating doomerism. And what has Pakistan and your wish to see me there got to do with anything? Is that some kind of stupid threat?

I was just injecting some light hearted humor into the article at your expense, and frankly, with all due respect, your opinion isn't worth that much.

I am not a "technocopian" but your seemingly automatic poo pooing of any attempt or trial of alternative energy sources just emphasizes that your position is born of dogma and not reason.

This one for wave power looks interesting.

Oyster 2 will have an installed capacity of 2.5MW and will consist of three linked wave power devices powering one onshore hydro-electric generator.

A 3 (or more?) phased system would seem a good idea to smooth the pressure changes.

My instincts say that placing these ~in the breaker lines, has to expose them to massive variations in energy.
Be fun to watch one in a large storm-swell.

The serious foundations needed, probably excludes sandy bottoms ?

It seems that any wave machine has to put up with huge variations in energy and will probably get destroyed sooner or later by a one-in-a-hundred-year storm. Having the electrical parts onshore seems the way to go at the moment. However this precludes many potential locations. Having said that oil rigs have been around for some time so maybe the wave energy people need to talk to them.

I don't see wave having a big contribution anytime soon until someone comes up with a 'killer' idea on how to avoid getting the generation equipment trashed every time a large storm comes along. It will be useful for island communities.

I understand that even the onshore 'limpet' wave generator in Western Scotland has been damaged by a storm.

I would also like to see more data on how much energy these devices actually generate and what the variability of output is.

Oceanlinx's pilot plants have been running for more than 5 years so presumably they would have data.

Tidal power has an easier time of it in terms of surviving harsh ocean conditions - but I'm sure some form of wave power will eventually commercial viable.

It's my understanding that Carnegie Wave Energy has no plants operating, and in fact has not yet demonstrated the generation of electricity, although it has demonstrated that its off-shore pumps can pump water. They keep making promising noises, but this is a requirement for a start-up needing lots of capital.

Initial engineering was badly done - think situation is better now, but this one could still be a l-o-n-g way off yet.