Oceanlinx launches 1MW wave converter

By a staff reporter

Wave energy company Oceanlinx today officially launched its 1MW wave energy converter off the coast of South Australia.

With ARENA’s support, Oceanlinx has designed and constructed a one megawatt wave energy device to convert the ocean’s power into electricity and is now preparing to commission and test how well it can feed this into the national electricity grid for 12 months.

ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said the unit was a world-leading renewable technology, and the ARENA investment would help take a new home-grown wave energy technology that has zero emissions closer to commercialisation.

“Our investment aims to demonstrate the technology and share lessons learnt to catalyse future projects,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“The project has improved collaboration between the research, government and industry sectors to deliver wave energy projects including coordination on regulatory matters, which will make the next project easier.”

Mr Frischknecht said there is great potential for wave energy technology in Australia with our wave resources considered to be among the best in the world; the area between Geraldton in Western Australia and the southern tip of Tasmania having the potential to provide about five times Australia’s total electricity requirements.

The $8 million project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) Emerging Renewables Program with $4.4 million funding.

The world-first unit, to be stationed off Port McDonnell, will be connected to the grid later this year. Called greenWAVE, the unit is made of simple flat packed prefabricated reinforced concrete. The technology works by waves producing high pressure air, which is converted into grid-quality electricity by a turbine. It sits under its own weight on the seafloor without the need for seabed preparation, in about 10-15m of water, effectively acting as an artificial reef for life, the company says. 

The 3000 tonne until will be on display at the TechPort industrial precinct for several weeks before moving several kilometres offshore. The $8 million project received $4.4 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency's emerging renewables program.

The converter unit is set to undergo testing and be scaled up later next year, potentially to 10MW. Oceanlinx hopes to develop multiple units of the technology for international sale.

The unit has no moving parts under the water and is designed to withstand the most aggressive sea conditions, the company says, while there is ease of access to the weather-tight powerhouse placed above the sea level, so the life management costs are kept to a minimum.