After six years on the drawing board, a Perth-based company has finally started building the world’s first wave energy farm off the West Australian coast.
Carnegie Energy is building the plant five kilometres off Rockingham and will supply electricity and desalinated water to the naval base at Garden Island.
The company’s chief executive Mike Ottaviano says it has taken a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of optimism to get to this stage.
“This is the first time that any company has ever deployed multiple wave energy units into what’s called a wave farm and produced electricity and fresh water from that,” he said.
It is one of three wave energy pilot projects in the pipeline around Australia but it is the only so-called ‘wave farm’, comprising of multiple units.
Under the system, Carnegie places large buoys beneath the ocean’s surface, which moves with the waves to generate high amounts of hydraulic pressure.
That pressure is then delivered onshore through a pipeline and then used to spin a hydro-electric turbine to generate electricity.
And wave power differs from other renewable energies like solar and wind, in that it delivers a relatively constant supply of energy both day and night.
Susan Wijffels from CSIRO says Australia is well placed to take advantage of wave energy.
“The resource that southern Australia gets its absolutely massive, if we could just harvest 10 per cent of that energy, that would supply half of Australia’s electricity,” she said.
That potential Mr Ottaviano hopes Carnegie will be able to capitalise on after it’s proved the technology at Garden Island.