Photo: Illustration (Courtesy of the University of Western Australia)

New reports outline potential of ocean energy at Western Australia’s southern tip

Researchers at the University of Western Australia’s Marine Energy Research Centre (MERA) have released two reports highlighting the ocean energy potential of Western Australia’s Albany region.

Illustration (Courtesy of the University of Western Australia)
Illustration (Courtesy of the University of Western Australia)

The two new reports outline the Great Southern region’s ‘internationally superior’ offshore energy resource and the ‘value in waves’ for Western Australia’s future economy.

The analysis by post-graduate researcher at the University of Western Australia’s (UWA’s) MERA, Lucy Wang, conducted as part of the WA Parliamentary Research Program, presents the benefits of including wave energy in the renewables mix and its cost-competitiveness over time.

MERA center manager Wiebke Ebeling at the UWA Albany Campus said the work modelled the composition and performance of a renewable energy grid on the WA south coast using solar, onshore wind and wave energy input to satisfy customer demand across all seasons.

“It concluded that the consistency and predictability of waves make the Albany region a promising site to advance wave energy as a clean baseload energy source in resilient renewable energy grids of the future that can reduce the need for battery storage and overcome intermittency issues,” Ebeling said.

The project is standing on the shoulders of a previous study that compared wave energy production by the wave-riding M4 technology (short for Moored MultiModal Multibody) in the Southern Ocean off Albany to the world’s wave energy capital, the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in northern Scotland.

Ebeling pointed out hat MERA’s research will be backed by the upcoming Albany sea trial, an Au$3.47 million project to design, build, deploy, operate and retrieve a reduced-scale M4 wave energy converter in King George Sound – marking an important milestone for Australia.

“Funded by the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre , WA Government and UWA, this project will make all data publicly available to advance the entire industry sector – a point of difference to projects around the world where commercial sensitivities limit knowledge sharing.

“The M4 project will validate our modelling and our predictions to establish Albany’s potential to produce significant renewable energy from ocean waves, for nearby customers such as the Albany Shellfish Hatchery and the Historic Whaling Station,” Ebeling said.

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