Capturing the tide in the Tamar

Tidal energy is being tested in the Tamar River in Launceston by the Australian Maritime College (AMC).

Researchers are conducting the experiments with a 2.5 metre-wide prototype in partnership with Sydney-based developers MAKO Tidal Turbines.

The test is being conducted near Reid Rock, as this location has the ideal current speed. The turbine is secured beneath a floating platform and connected to a mooring on the east side of the estuary.

AMC project lead associate professor Irene Penesis said tidal energy is completely predictable compared with solar and wind power due to its consistent cycles.

“Tidal energy technologies extract energy from marine currents and tidal movements and this energy can be converted into electrical power,” Associate Professor Penesis said.

“We want to monitor the effects of this particular project, but also understand the processes so we can apply the findings to other potential tidal energy sites.”

AMC and MAKO conducted extensive tank tests, and this research will work out how full scale turbines operate in practice, factoring in turbulence and biofouling (organisms growing on the turbine) which may have an impact on performance and longevity of the device.

MAKO Turbine’s Managing Director, Douglas Hunt, explained how Australia stands to benefit from the partnership’s activity in Tasmania.

“We are delighted with the results achieved by working collaboratively with AMC from tank testing though to full-scale deployment,” Mr Hunt said.

“Tidal is set to become a key part of the energy mix worldwide and our work here with AMC means Australia will continue to play a key role in this emerging global industry.”

Dean Cook, CEO of AMC Search, explained how the project has developed and thanked those that have contributed to its success.

“Significant support for our work was provided in the early stages by an AusIndustry Innovation grant, which helped us get up and running,” he said.

“Since then, numerous local businesses have supported the deployment including Multiskilled Tasmania, Tasmanian Ports Corporation (TasPorts), Marine and Safety Tasmania (MAST), Brierley Hose and Handling, and Cromarty.”