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Australian wave energy hopeful wins grant to test technology at UK hub

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Image: Supplied AMOG

An Australian company has won a European Union grant to test its “floating pendulum” wave power generation technology at a marine energy testing site in Cornwall, off the south-west tip of England.

The Victoria-based company, AMOG, said on Monday that it had secured the grant through the EU’s European Regional Development Fund – to install a scaled-down version of its Wave Energy Converter (WEC) device at the University of Exeter’s ‘nursery’ test site, called FaBTest.

The company said that the Falmouth site was chosen over potential Australian testing sites because it offered the opportunity for the device to be tested in a sheltered location for a summer season deployment, in a scaled and controlled environment.

AMOG, which was founded 25 years ago to provide consulting services to the offshore oil and gas industry, says it has more recently cultivated “significant expertise” in wave energy generation, and turned its focus to developing a new kind of wave power device.

The result, pictured above, s a 25 metre floating structure with a “damped pendulum” – a design the company says is based on the principles of Dynamic Vibration Absorbers, a design that has been used over hundreds of years in technologies ranging from car engines, to bridges, to hand-held electrical shavers.

In the case of the WEC, AMOG says the technology is used to maximise power from the incoming waves, extracting energy from the pendulum damping “via electromotive force (EMF).”

The company says the advantages of the design include its simplicity, low construction costs, and its “survivability” in ocean conditions, drawn from the company’s experience with mooring technology and in the floating offshore oil and gas industry.

According to the AMOG website, a full-scale version of its technology – a 1:3 scale model is being tested in Cornwall – is projected to produce a 50 percentile power of 600kW, and has the potential to be installed all around Australia, in waters of WA, SA, Tasmania and Victoria.

“We believe this is a unique and highly innovative wave energy device that will make a real impact in the wave energy marketplace worldwide,” said AMOG Director Hayden Marcollo.

“Being able to test this product in Cornwall, with support from Marine-i, is really helping us drive our project forward.

“It seemed to us that the major failings of previous projects have been related to reliability, survivability and cost of installation,” Marcollo added.

“We have found a way to address these issues by eliminating mechanical components below the waterline and ensuring the system is moored conventionally requiring low cost infrastructure.

“Crucially, our design, installation and project execution depends heavily on the lessons learned and best practices from the fifty year old offshore oil and gas industry.”

Of course, AMOG will not be the first Australian wave power hopeful to have its technology tested at the industry renowned Cornwall facility.

Back in 2014, a Queenland-based wave energy start-up Perpetuwave Power was awarded a UK government grant to test of its ‘Wave Harvester’ technology at the site.

And in late 2016, Australia’s leading wave power company, now known as Carnegie Clean Energy, was awarded EU grant funding of $15.5 million to develop a 15MW commercial demonstration of its CETO 6 technology at Cornwall’s advanced wave testing site, offshore from Hayle.

Another Australian company, Protean Wave Energy, has been testing its technology locally, at the Port of Bunbury in Western Australia.

All are hopeful to crack the notoriously illusive commercial wave energy market, which as AMOG notes on its website, could be enormous if cost and technological barriers can be overcome. A study by the CSIRO has estimated that the medium-case potential for wave energy capacity in Australia, alone, could be 24TWh a year by 2050, or 5 per cent of the national demand.  

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