This article comes from the Portland Observer, journalist: Bill Meldrum.
Wave project swell
WAVE energy company Oceanlinx has moved to allay any fears it has scrapped its Portland project in favour of a site off the South Australian coast.
It follows a report in Mount Gambier newspaper The Border Watch late last week that the company was planning to build the first stage of the biggest wave energy plant in the world off Port MacDonnell next year.
However, project manager Fraser Johnson confirmed on Monday the company’s proposed projects near Cape Nelson and at King Island were still ongoing, and were at a far more advanced stage than Port MacDonnell.
“We have only just started to show an interest in the Limestone Coast area of South Australia,” he said.
It is understood the company has been making slow but steady progress on its Portland project for the past few years since the project was first mooted by its predecessor Energetech.
There have been fears in the community at various stages over the past few years that the company would scrap the Portland project through a lack of government funding, along with concerns that the company’s plans for the Portland project kept on changing.
Oceanlinx chief executive officer Ali Baghaei was a bit more cautious in his comments, saying the company intended that all three projects would eventually be built.
“I don’t know the details of the briefing that Fraser Johnson and Sean Barrett (project analyst) gave to the Grant District Council last week, but what I can say is that all three projects involve the same technologies and are the same size … it is very much dependent on government funding as to which one is built first,” he said.
“We just have to wait and see how the governments (federal and state) assess the plans for each site as to which project attracts government funding first.”
Mr Johnson said the company was waiting on an opening date for applications to a Victorian Government state fund for renewable energy grants for the Portland project.
A spokesperson for Premier Ted Baillieu said details of the next round of Energy Technology Innovation (ETIS) funding would be announced next year.
“The Victorian Coalition Government has committed an additional $41 million to the ETIS program to encourage the development of low emission energy technologies,” the spokesperson said.
Mr Baghaei said the first stage of all three projects would involve a small demonstration unit or small number of units with a generating capacity of up to five megawatts.
He reaffirmed his previous comments made back in June this year that the successful operation of the demonstration unit or units would likely motivate the expansion of the project into a second phase which would involve a much larger array of units.
The second phase would have a generating capacity of between 30 and 100MW, with funding probably drawn from project financiers.
He said he did not know if it would be the largest wave energy project in the world, saying other companies in the world may have projects on the drawing board he was unaware of, that could be larger.
Another wave energy company, Ocean Power Technologies, already has federal funding for a 19MW pre-commercial demonstration unit off the Portland coast.