The Australian Minister for Energy has announced the government will provide AUD 4 million (US$ 2.7 million) in support for a pilot-scale wave energy plant off the coast of King Island, Tasmania.
The project by start-up Wave Swell Energy will cost AUD 12.3 million and involve the design, construction, installation and operation of the UniWave 200, a 200 kW wave energy device. The government support will be made through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
The UniWave works by using waves to produce high pressure air, which is converted into electricity by a turbine. The project will also be integrated with the King Island microgrid operated by Hydro Tasmania, which received $6 million in ARENA funding in 2011 to demonstrate the integration of several renewable resources and energy management technologies.
“The wave energy will complement Hydro Tasmania’s existing high penetration wind and solar grid, diversifying the renewable sources and further reducing diesel consumption,” according to Wave Swell.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project will offer additional insights into combining wind, solar and wave energy.
“Wave energy has the potential to be integrated into microgrids, particularly on island locations with limited space, to reduce the need for significant battery storage due to the relative predictability and consistency of wave energy,” he said.
The company has suggested that the technology – if deployed at a large scale as multi-unit, multi-megawatt wave farm – could produce energy at 10c/kWh. For now, the goal of the 12-month pilot project is to supply energy into the local island grid, initially using one unit, with the option to add another bigger one on the west coast of the island in the near future.