The following comes from The Australian newspaper. Journalist: Graham Lloyd.
All’s swell for new-wave energy
THE Eureka moment for Perth inventor Sean Moore, 41, came when his Protean wave energy device achieved its sixth degree of freedom.
The discovery gave Mr Moore’s low-cost buoy system the greatest efficiency possible to generate electricity from harnessing the perpetual motion of the sea.
Unlike other wave power technologies that generate electricity from only one or two degrees of movement out of a possible six — heave, surge, sway, yaw, pitch and roll — Mr Moore’s Protean device captures the lot.
Based on well-known ocean buoy technology, it is easy to deploy, able to withstand rough seas and designed to operate on the surface, where the power of the ocean is greatest before falling exponentially with depth.
As a renewable energy source, the advantage of wave power is that it is constant, unlike the sun and wind, and can be close to coastal population centres without great environmental impact.
If the Protean buoy moves, it will generate electricity, desalinate water or perform a host of other functions for a lower cost than other wave technologies and solar and is comparable to other renewable energies.
A review of the technology by Sinclair Knight Mertz found the Protean system could generate electricity at 9.5c a kilowatt hour at the point of generation, which is competitive with wind.
A five megawatt unit located in 150m of water 5km offshore can deliver electricity to shore at 17c a kW/h, which is competitive with offshore wind. This is still dearer than other baseload options such as coal or gas, but it is ideally suited for rapid deployment to remote areas and islands, which may now be paying as much as 60c a kW/h for electricity using diesel generators. Mr Moore said cost reductions could be expected as the device was manufactured at scale.
“It wasn’t until I had finished . . . and then looked back at what I had done and realised that it had far more capacity than I was originally looking at,” Mr Moore said.
The device can be dismantled and shipped in a sea container in the back of a truck. “You can set up a manufacturing hub pretty much anywhere and turn out large numbers rapidly with a small green-collar workforce. There is only one thing that matters in this whole equation: how close and competitive can you come in with current costs of power?”
Protean chairman Paul Niardone said the firm would start selling the units to off-grid and fringe-of-grid applications.
“With this system you could deploy one buoy close to shore and take a 100m cable to a hut,” Mr Niardone said.
It also has potential benefits for coastal population centres, and islands, that face high power generation costs and often blackouts because of failing infrastructure.
“To a small coastal community, a 5-megawatt installation for 5000 houses can change the economics of the community. They can start new industry, they have got a means of revenue generation, they can sell back into the grid and subsidise other programs.”
Protean energy is planning to raise $7.5 million through a public share issue to commercialise the technology.