A wave energy machine on Reunion island using technology developed by Perth-based Carnegie Wave Energy has reportedly been swept away and damaged during a recent cyclone in an embarrassing incident for the company.
Local press reports said that the prototype machine was swept away when waves whipped up by Cyclone Bejisa earlier this month snapped the cable linking the large buoy with the hydraulic pump anchored to the ocean floor.
A report in one online journal said the buoy was swept away and even the foundations were found adjacent to a nearby reef. The cyclone packed winds of up to 200km, caused one death, a dozen injuries, and widespread damage to buildings, agriculture and energy and water supplies.
The project near the town of St Pierre was being managed under licence by the French energy giant EdF, which hired French maritime defence specialist DCNS to manufacture and deploy a commercial scale CETO 4 unit.
The Reunion Island project is jointly funded by EDF and the French and the Réunion Governments, and had been hoped to be a predecessor for a larger scale deployment.
A spokesman for Carnegie confirmed that the buoy had been swept away when the tether failed, but denied that the foundations had been impacted or that the machine had been destroyed. He said it may be redeployed.
He said that machine deployed on Reunion was a modification of the CETO technology introduced by DCNS, particularly in relation to how the buoy was installed and the absence of a “quick release” mechanism in case of failure. This was a major cause of the incident.
“It is unfortunate, but we are reassured by the fact that DCNS are not deterred by this event, and they will continue with the deployment,” the spokesman said.
He also said that the incident would have no impact on the WA project, which will use a later model of CETO. “The issues will never be encountered here because we are dealing with our proprietary design. In fact, it confirms that the design decisions that we have made.”
Carnegie is currently building a larger installation next to Garden Island near Perth, in what will be the world’s first multi-machine deployment of wave energy power. It will also provide missions-free desalinated water to the naval base on Garden Island.