Australian tidal energy mapping kicks off at Banks Strait

The researchers of the AUSTEn project have started field measurements at the Banks Strait as part of a three-year project looking to map tidal energy resource areas in Australia.

Banks Strait, situated between the north-eastern point of Tasmania and Flinders Island, is the first of two targeted sites to be characterized for tidal energy resource, and environmental assessment in a collaborative project involving research organizations and industry partners.

The site, 15 kilometers wide and 25 to 60 meters deep, has this March been a subject of field measurements which involved the deployment of various instruments to collect information on local tidal currents, energy potential, water column properties, turbulence, wind and wave climate, seabed characteristics and sediment transport, and bathymetry data.

Technical outcomes from this fieldwork will include calculations such as power density, power and resource predictions, and resource extraction effects for general and/or specific tidal energy converters (and their characteristics) in single and/or arrays, according to the project site.

In addition, the field measurements will be used to validate high resolution numerical models.

“This fieldwork will deliver unprecedented and necessary field-based data and knowledge to tidal energy developers, government, and other interested parties.

“In addition, these stakeholders can be confident in the accuracy of collected data as the fieldwork will meet and exceed current international standards for tidal site characterisation. As a result, we believe this work will accelerate tidal energy investment in Australia,” AUSTEn researchers have said.

The research is being conducted using the FTV Bluefin, a 35-meter research and training vessel provided by the Australian Maritime College at the University of Tasmania (AMC Tasmania).

Aside from AMC Tasmania, other project partners include the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the University of Queensland, and industry players OpenHydro, Protean Wave Energy, MAKO Tidal Turbines, and BioPower Systems.

The Au$5.9 million ($4.6 million) project, for which the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided Au$2.5 million ($1.9 million), will also benefit from collaboration with international researchers from Canada’s Acadia University, and UK’s Bangor University.

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