‘Wave power backers are buoyant’

Encouraging news from Western Australia:

The phrase “wave of the future” has rarely been more apt. A renewable energy project to be launched this year is set to transform WA into the world’s biggest centre for turning waves into electricity.

The State is blessed with some of the strongest and most reliable waves in the world and that could turn out to be a boon for renewable energy as well as surfers in the coming decade.

Within months, Perth-based company Carnegie Wave Energy will install a network of 30 huge underwater buoys, each 7m across, covering a 200sqm patch of seabed off Garden Island.

The buoys, named Ceto after the Greek goddess of the ocean, will use the energy of the surging waves to drive turbines and create electrical power.

The project could generate up to 5MW of grid-connected power, roughly the same amount as a community wind farm, Carnegie chief executive Michael Ottaviano said.

If it works, wave energy could take off like no other renewable technology in Australia. CSIRO researchers have calculated that our nation – which, let’s not forget, is girt by sea – has enough surf to generate 146GW of wave energy, almost three times the country’s total power demand.

The WA Government has already invested $12.5 million in Carnegie’s efforts to bring the technology to market, not just in WA but on the world stage, much as Scandinavian companies led the charge into wind energy in the 1990s.

MICHAEL HOPKIN, The West Australian, January 11, 2011

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