Wave energy makes a splash on renewable map

Carnegie's CETO 6
Carnegie's CETO 6

The CSIRO is mapping the wave energy potential of Australia’s coastline for renewable wave energy farms.

The Australian Wave Energy Atlas – a wave resource mapping and modelling project – will allow users to assess the feasibility of wave power projects off Australian shores. It will add to the Australian Renewable Energy Mapping Infrastructure (AREMI) project, led by National ICT Australia, to share mapping data and information with the energy industry.

The online atlas will use data from weather mapping, satellites, measuring stations and a variety of other sources, which will be fed into a complex wave modelling application. It will also display geographic information on marine usage, and show heritage-listed areas, marine parks, shipping lanes, and oil and gas infrastructure and pipelines.

Atlas leader Dr Mark Hemer said the data shows Australia’s best wave power resources are generally along the south and west coasts, in particular south-west Western Australia and the west coast of Tasmania.

“We’ve just released a development version of the atlas,” he said.

“Obviously some people are interested, like the project developers themselves or the device developers, potential financiers, [and] marine planners trying to allocate sections of the marine resource. We’re trying to meet the needs of all those different groups.”

Dr Hemer said the challenge now was to bring the cost of wave energy down to the point where it was cost-competitive with the alternatives.

The CSIRO wave atlas project is supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and wave energy companies BioPower Systems and Carnegie Wave Energy.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said wave mapping is “an important step forward in enabling more wave energy projects to come to the fore in Australia”.

“Australia has some of the best wave resources in the world and we’re only just starting to tap into the ocean’s potential to produce reliable, renewable energy,” he said.

The project is scheduled for completion in 2017.