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New renewable energy project set to make waves

Stimulating tidal energy investment in Australia.


A new project set to attract and underpin investment in tidal energy in Australia has been awarded $2.49 million funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Tidal Energy in Australia – Assessing Resource and Feasibility to Australia’s Future Energy Mix - will be led by the Australian Maritime College at the University of Tasmania, in partnership with CSIRO and University of Queensland.

The $5.85 million, three-year project will map the country’s tidal energy in unprecedented detail before assessing its ability to contribute to Australia’s energy needs.

Lead Chief Investigator, Associate Professor Irene Penesis, said the project will overcome current barriers to investment in commercial-scale tidal farms in Australia. 

With some of the largest tides in the world, Australia is ideal for this extremely reliable and low-carbon form of energy.

“But potential investors are currently held back by a lack of detailed information on tidal resources that would help them understand the risks and opportunities available.

A tidal turbine being towed out to the Tamar River.

This project will address this knowledge gap and provide the information that developers need to deploy their technology in the most energetic tidal sites in Australia.

ARENA Chief Executive Officer Ivor Frischknecht said this project will help to unlock the potential of tidal energy to contribute to Australia’s energy needs.

Ocean energy technologies are in their early stages of development. With ARENA’s help, we hope to see exciting steps forward being made in understanding the benefits of tidal energy, Mr Frischknecht said.

Four industry partners (OpenHydro, Protean Wave Energy, MAKO Tidal Turbines and BioPower Systems) will make financial contributions and provide the researchers with proprietary information on their tidal energy devices, as well as commercial implementation know-how.

Michael Lewis, Business Development Manager at international marine turbine company OpenHydro, a DCNS Energies company, said the project will help the tidal energy industry in Australia match advances seen internationally.

We believe this project will create an environment in which we can deliver commercially viable tidal energy projects in Australia, helping the country move forward in the development of a tidal energy industry.

The project will also benefit from collaboration with international researchers from Acadia University, Canada, and Bangor University, UK, both of whom are at the forefront of global developments in tidal energy.

The project will deliver:

  1. Tidal resource map: development of a national-scale hydrodynamic tidal model to map the scale and distribution of the nation’s tidal energy resources to the nearest 500 metres. The results will be made available in an online resource atlas.

  2. Full feasibility assessment of high-potential sites: focused case studies at two high-potential sites. Includes field measurements, hydrodynamic modelling and environmental impact assessment.

  3. Technical and economic feasibility assessment: development of an economic case for connecting high-potential sites to Australia’s electricity infrastructure, with consideration of national grid, end-of-grid and off-grid application.

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