Perth brothers up for innovation award

Brothers Shawn and Glen Ryan behind Bombora Wavepower
Brothers Shawn and Glen Ryan behind Bombora Wavepower

Proving Carnegie is not Western Australia’s only wave power developer, the two brothers behind Bombora Wavepower have been shortlisted in the state’s Inventor of the Year Award, while another company is testing its own technology off a Perth beach.

Brothers Shawn and Glen Ryan are both qualified mechanical engineers with backgrounds in oil and gas, and have created the Bombora Wave Energy Converter, which harnesses untapped wave power and converts it into electricity at significantly lower costs than traditional systems. Each of the units has the potential to supply renewable electricity for up to 500 homes, comparable to the equivalent greenhouse gas benefit of taking more than 800 cars off the road.

According to the International Energy Authority and CSIRO, up to 500,000MW of marine energy capacity could be installed globally by 2050.

“That is an equivalent expenditure to building a Gorgon Gas project each and every year for the next 30 years,” Shawn Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said he and his brother began working with wave energy in 2007 after realising it was a significant opportunity for the local energy mix.

“For the first few years, developing the Bombora system was very much a hobby. We spent our weekends constructing some concept models
we ‘tank tested’ in bathtubs and in my mother-in-law’s swimming pool. We also spent a lot of time researching the market and understanding the state-of-the-art before turning it into a full time pursuit,” he told The Switch Report.

“At our family farm in York we built a test rig and started a pre-feasibility study, which finished in 2013.”

A prototype of the Bombora Wave Energy Converter will be operational in the Swan River at Como Jetty, and will be open for public to view.

Bombora is currently in a pre-feasibility stage, with data from the demonstration informing the company’s business case.

“We have also benefited from the work of those who have gone before us. Other developers have had to clear the path on myriad issues such as land tenure,
government engagement, mathematical modelling, physical testing techniques and key component development to name but a few,” Mr Ryan said.

“Observing other wave power companies also made us realise diversification is a key survival attribute for a small company.”