Australia state approves wave energy pilot projects

The government of South Australia State has approved two wave energy pilot projects planning to utilize the extensive wave energy generated by the Southern Ocean off Australia.

Premier Mike Rann announced the May 19, 2009, approval of a pilot project by Wave Rider Energy Pty Ltd. planned for installation off Elliston on the Eyre Peninsula. The company plans an initial investment of A$5 million (US$3.9 million).

“South Australia is said to have excellent wave energy potential due to the nature of its coastline and the power of waves generated in the Southern Ocean,” Rann said.

A wave power assessment of the southern Australia coast last year found 170,000 MW of potential near-shore wave energy potential. (HydroWorld 10/3/08) The independent report, commissioned by wave energy developer Carnegie Corp., estimated a “conservative” 10 percent of that amount — 17,000 MW — is economically extractable.

Rann said Wave Rider’s first Wave Energy Converter will be deployed on the seabed lease. Wave Rider Managing Director Christian Gerlach said the device utilizes an innovative mechanical technology that provides high efficiency and durability.

“Given the location of the site, 800 meters offshore, a depth of 30 meters, and a limestone seabed, there will be minimal impact on the environment but potential for future social and economic benefits,” Gerlach said.

The government said Wave Rider hopes to make its technology commercially viable and has further growth and export plans for its operations in South Australia.

Rann said the state gave approval to another wave energy pilot project, in April, to Carnegie Corp. for a test site along the Limestone Coast near Port MacDonnell.

“Wave energy represents a largely untapped sustainable energy resource and is seen to be one of the most environmentally benign forms of energy generation currently available,” the premier said.

Carnegie recently expanded its CETO Wave Energy Research Facility in Fremantle, Western Australia State. Its first CETO II wave energy prototype achieved initial operation in February 2008 at the CETO test site off Fremantle.

CETO features a wave power converter that sits on the seabed. It transmits high-pressure seawater ashore through a small pipe. The water is used either to power a turbine-generator or for reverse osmosis to produce fresh water.

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