An Australian-first in tidal energy has been achieved with a commercial-ready turbine at Gladstone Port sending power into the city’s grid.
Installed by Sydney-based MAKO Tidal Turbines, the Gladstone turbine is a demonstration-scale project, but the Gladstone Ports Corporation has plans to install more after the success of the trial.
The tidal turbine could set a precedent for other sites in Australia as well, with MAKO Tidal Turbines head Dougas Hunt telling the ABC there were vast numbers of pylons and piers along the Australian coast that could potentially house pairs of turbines.
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“Battery storage need only take into account a four- to six-hour window without power until the tide once again flows and the batteries are recharged,” he said.
“But really our focus is beyond Australia. We’re already in discussion with parties to put a similar configured turbine in South East Asia and we see that as an enormous market for us.”
Gladstone Ports CEO Peter O’Sullivan told the ABC the turbines work like a propeller and as the tide moves through the port it turns the propeller to produce electricity.
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The power is then transferred through a cable to Barney Point coal terminal or to local energy providers through substations, which is then distributed into the grid.
A two-metre turbine like the one installed at Gladstone Ports provides enough energy to power one home per day.
A huge benefit of the turbine trial is the predictable nature of tidal flows. The team at Gladstone Ports know exactly what velocity of water is going to be moving through the turbines, which means they know how much electricity is going to be produced.
So far no negative environmental impacts have been found.