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.