Australian wave energy gets $10m government cash

Two Australian wave energy projects have landed almost A$10m ($10.2m) of government funding to develop pilot projects off the Victorian and South Australian coasts.

BioPower Systems wins A$5.6m towards its A$15m Victorian pilot while Oceanlinx wins just under A$4.6m for its A$7.2m South Australian pilot.

Australia’s wave energy resources are considered to be among the best in the world, with the area between Geraldton in Western Australia and the southern tip of Tasmania able to provide more than 1,300 terawatt hours per year – about five times Australia’s total electricity requirements.

Including a grant for Perth-based Carnegie Wave Energy, the Australian government has now contributed close to A$20m to new wave-energy technologies through the $126m Emerging Renewables Program.

“This makes us one of the world’s largest supporters of wave energy with a diverse range of technologies in development,” energy minister Martin Ferguson says.

"Wave energy is still very much an emerging technology and this funding will position Australia as a global leader in developing this technology,” he adds.

Biopower’s multi-blade bioWave device sways back and forth beneath the waves generating energy via the company’s self-contained “O-Drive” module, which converts oscillating forces to electricity using hydraulics. The concept was inspired by the motion of large sea-plants under wave action.

Power from the device – designed for water depths of 30-50 metres – flows to the grid via a subsea cable. The unit is designed to survive the severe forces of the Southern Ocean while generating up to 250KW of electricity.

Following assembly of the 400-tonne unit in 2013, the pilot is scheduled to operate to late 2015. The project has also received $5m funding from the Victorian government.

Oceanlinx’s 1MW-capacity GreenWAVE is a shallow-water technology with no underwater moving parts. It employs Australian-designed oscillating water column, turbine and conversion components and will be connected to the grid by subsea cable from late 2013.

The Sydney-based company was the first to successfully install a grid-connected wave-energy machine in Australia.