Australia’s 2,966,140 square-mile landmass is ringed by 16,006 miles of coastline. Most of the population is concentrated along the southeast coast of the country, in an arc running from Brisbane to Adelaide along the "boomerang coast." Virtually all of Australia's large cities - Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide - are on the coast. About 80 percent of Australia's population lives within 30 miles of the coast.
So, where do the Aussies get their energy to support their affluent lifestyles?
Australia is one of the most coal-dependent countries in the world and coal and natural gas, along with oil-based products, are currently the primary sources of Australian energy usage.
But recent technological innovations may make that coastline as attractive to renewable energy investors as sunbathers.
A new wave energy project is being planned for development off the coast of Garden Island in Western Australia, near Perth.
Carnegie Wave Energy is putting the final design touches on its 5 megawatt “Perth Project,” which will use Carnegie’s CETO wave energy technology. After Carnegie Wave Energy recently announced that it had completed the “basis of detailed design” for the project, it received a $145,000 grant from the Western Australian government to proceed with the project’s final design stage.
The CETO system, named after a Greek sea goddess, differs in a number of ways from other wave power systems underdevelopment worldwide.
For a start, its power converter is fully submerged, utilizing a series of tethered offshore buoys submerged in water 50 165 deep which, when propelled by waves, pump seawater ashore under high pressure, where it drives turbines to generate electricity. An advantage of the system is that it has no need for undersea electrical grids for high voltage transmission or costly marine qualified plants. Since the CETO units are permanently anchored to the sea floor, there is no visual impact as with offshore wind farms, and they have the added advantage of being safe from the extreme conditions that surface storms can produce. The units are self-attenuating to tidal, sea state and wave patterns, allowing them to function in a wide variety of wave heights and in any direction.
Carnegie Wave Energy has tested the CETO system over the past decade in oceanic conditions with test plants at both 1/3rd and commercial scale. The CETO system is scalable, and its modular array design would allow facilities to be expanded quickly.
Last but not least, the CETO system allows either zero-greenhouse gas emission (GGE) electricity to be produced, similar to hydroelectricity or zero GGE emission freshwater by standard reverse osmosis desalination technology, or tweaked for co production of zero-emission GGE electricity and freshwater.
Stage two of the Perth Project will see Carnegie Wave Energy construct a grid-connected commercial scale demonstration project, chaining multiple submerged standalone Ceto units in an array which will be connected to an onshore power generation facility via a subsea pipeline. The project’s first stage will have a peak rated capacity of 2 megawatts, to be followed by a second stage of 3 megawatts.
Looking further afield, Carnegie Wave Energy is developing a similar project in Ireland and is in discussions on several other proposed projects, including Bermuda and British Columbia.
Carnegie Wave Energy says that the Perth Project has no significant impact on marine life and will be constructed out of the way of popular surfing areas. There is some irony in the fact that while Australia for the foreseeable future will remain a major coal exporter, its government’s commitments to reducing GGE mean that it is most unlikely that any Australian state will sign on to constructing new coal fired plants, and natural gas and oil imports are a net drain on their economies.
What’s not to like?
By. John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com