Australia to lead cheap and clean tidal power

The world’s first tidal power station that can produce uninterrupted energy is on track to begin construction in Australia’s Kimberley region early next year.

The Derby Tidal Power Project will be the first tidal station in the Southern Hemisphere and the world’s first ‘double basin’ scheme.

It is expected to supply 40MW of clean power to the mining industry at a price below that of diesel.

Tidal Energy Australia managing director Brian Rourke said the project is an enormous breakthrough that could revolutionise the Kimberley and cause an influx of new industry to the region. What’s more, Mr Rourke said firm plans are in place for the project to go ahead.

“We have sign-off from the state government and are waiting on the Commonwealth go ahead. The mining company that will underwrite the development is now simply seeking environmental approval,” he said.

Mr Rourke, who was a keynote speaker at All-Energy Australia 2013, said there are a lot of people in the Derby area who would like power at a reasonable rate and that there are many projects that can’t be green lighted because the price of power would be prohibitive.

“We are about to change all that,” he said.

The Derby Tidal Power Station will produce energy at the rate of 30-35 cents per kilowatt hour.

According to Mr Rourke, the reason no ‘double basin’ tidal stations have been built is because developers need to locate two estuaries close enough together to generate power, with the water flowing from one basin to another. This natural water movement is present in the east and west branches of Doctor’s Creek, on the outskirts of Derby.

Tidal Energy Australia predicts the power station will take two years to build, depending upon the length of the wet season. Mr Rourke said he sees the Derby Tidal Power Project as just the start of a potential spate of tidal developments.

“We have identified sites in the Kimberley region that would have 200 times the output of this power station,” he said.