Australia to map tidal energy potential

Illustration/MAKO tidal turbine (Photo: MAKO Tidal Turbines)

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has provided funding for the study that will map and explore the future potential of tidal energy resource in Australia.

The funding, in the amount of Au$2.5 million ($1.9 million), will support a three-year project led by the Australian Maritime College at the University of Tasmania, in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the University of Queensland and industry partners.

The project, named Tidal Energy in Australia – Assessing Resource and Feasibility in Australia’s Future Energy Mix, will create an online atlas mapping tidal energy nationwide to the nearest 500 meters.

It will also involve a full feasibility study of two high potential sites, and modelling of existing tidal energy devices at these sites.

Four industry partners, including OpenHydro, Protean Wave Energy, MAKO Tidal Turbines, and BioPower Systems will make financial contributions and provide the researchers with proprietary information on their tidal energy devices, as well as commercial implementation know-how, according to ARENA.

Ivor Frischknecht, ARENA’s Chief Executive, said: “This research will help Australia to better understand tidal energy and help to maximize renewable energy into the market. Ocean energy technologies are in their early stages of development. With ARENA’s help, we hope to see exciting steps forward being made in understanding the benefits of tidal energy.”

Irene Penesis, lead researcher for the project, added: “Potential investors are currently held back by a lack of detailed information on tidal resources that would help them understand the risks and opportunities available. This project will address this knowledge gap and provide the information that developers need to deploy their technology in the most energetic tidal sites in Australia.”

The Au$5.9 million ($4.6 million) project will also benefit from collaboration with international researchers from Canada’s Acadia University, and UK’s Bangor University, both of which are at the forefront of global developments in tidal energy.

ARENA added that the data produced by this research may also be used for a range of other purposes, such as environmental management, shipping, defense, oil and gas exploration and offshore wind and wave energy.

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