Aspiring Australian wave energy technology developer Protean Technologies is about to begin installation of up to 30 of its wave energy converters at the Port of Bunbury in Western Australia, in the first commercial deployment of its technology.
The company, recently listed on the ASX through a reverse takeover of a small uranium explorer called Stonehenge Metals, expects to have the demonstration farm operating with a month for a trial period of six months under a contract with the Southern Ports Authority.
Managing director Bruce Lane says the device has been extensively tested on an individual basis over the last few years, but this will be the first time tested as an array.
“What we need to prove is that we can produce consistent form of electricity,” Lane told RenewEconomy. “It is fundamental to us to prove the system and converting wave energy into a useful form of electricity.”
They are designed to be deployed in arrays (pictured above) in the same way as solar panels. Lane says the technology is designed to be easy to install and cheap to manufacture.
The company recently re-listed on the ASX after its reverse takeover of Stonehenge Metals and after raising $5 million in capital.
In a recent presentation the company says: “The buoy floats on the surface and all 6 degrees of motion created from waves cause the counterweights to move and the pulleys to rotate
“The rotation from the pulleys creates bidirectional shaft power, which is converted into compressed air in the buoy.”
This compressed air is transported to shore via a poly pipe transfer and storage system, and the air pressure in turn drives an air motor onshore, which in turn power a conventional electrical generator.
Protean says the results of the trial will be used to design a pilot system, most likely to be used off an island in the Maldives. It says there has been interest from the local eco-holiday resort, a climate observatory and other power users for a wave energy farm off the island of Hanimaadhoo.
Wave energy is seen as a natural and relatively easy competitor for diesel – at least on costs, and once the technology is proven.
The Protean technology is the work of Sean Moore, an abalone diver and engineer, has been working on this technology for more than a decade. Moore remains the company’s chief technology office.
Lane says the technology is designed to be easy to install and cheap to manufacture. It is designed for simple installation, small footprint, no subsea drilling andeasy retrieval or relocation. And it is designed for “survivability” and low cost mass production and deployment.
Just like solar panels. “Solar has taken the world one panel at a time. We will do this one converter buoy at a time,” Lane told RenewEconomy in a previous interview.