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Large-scale tidal energy plant approved for WA

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The West Australian government has approved plans to build a 40MW tidal power station in the West Kimberley, paving the way for the development of the state’s first such utility-scale ocean energy plant.

The proposed plant, which is being developed by Tidal Energy Australia (TEA), is earmarked for Doctor’s Creek, near Derby, where extreme tidal movements are expected to be able to generate enough electricity to power between 10,000 and 15,000 homes.

The state’s environment minister, Albert Jacob, has approved the Derby Tidal Power Project subject to 14 conditions, and pending the negotiation of a contract for the construction of power lines to major towns in the West Kimberley. TEA says the project – for which design and costing was completed in 2003 – is awaiting “a suitable offtake contract” before it can go ahead.

The cost of tidal energy is speculative, but is probably at $250-$300/MWh, or more – which would not be much of a discount from diesel. But politicians have long been pushing for tidal to be exploited in the north of Australia, which enjoys massive tidal surges. Any project would require the support of funding from ARENA, or even the CEFC. There is no word yet on which tidal technology would be favoured.

On its website, TEA says the Derby project will use proven off-the-shelf equipment – including a double basin system with six 8MW turbines – and will have a power output of 200GWh/annum, and a CO2 avoidance of 27,000 tonnes/annum.

Derby-West Kimberley shire president Elsia Archer says she is excited about the extra jobs and power it will bring to the West Kimberley.

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  • M.G.Adams

    The French tidal power station at Rance in Brittany, built in 1966 paid for itself in 20 years and currently produces power at 1.8c/ kWh! The entrance to King Sound at Derby has islands across it & It should be possible to build modular Caissons across it, like the Mulberry Harbours built for the Normandy D Day invasion in WW2. Each Caisson could be built in a Dry dock near Derby, have the power turbine built in, then would be floated out and sunk in position. This way it should be possible to build a chain of turbines across the entrance to King Sound and produce the biggest Tidal Power station in the world!

  • Sasparilla2

    Just to add to MG Adams comment:

    “The cost of tidal energy is speculative, but is probably at $250-$300/MWh, or more – which would not be much of a discount from diesel.”

    Until the tidal plant is payed off where only maintenance costs would ensue (since the fuel is free) while diesel which is expected to continue increasing in price will only get more expensive over time – not to mention pollutes. Easy choice, go for tidal.