Another Australian-designed wave energy project has been deployed, with the completion this week of the 250kW bioWAVE pilot demonstration unit off the Victorian coast near Port Fairy.
The $21 million project has been in development by Sydney and US-based company, BioPower Systems, for three years, with $11 million funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and $5 million funding from the Victorian Government.
In a joint statement with ARENA, BPS – who completed construction of its prototype bioWAVE unit at the end of June – said on Wednesday the unit had been successfully deployed by a crane-equipped ship, which transported the device to the site and lowered it into the water.
This would be no small feat, considering the device’s size and weight – it is a 26 metre high steel structure that, when installed below the water’s surface, oscillates back and forth with the movement of the waves.
In this way, the bioWAVE captures the energy from the waves and converts it into electricity that is fed into the grid via an undersea cable. The entire device can lie flat on the seabed out of harm’s way during bad weather.
BPS said the unit was angled in the water, allowing it to be submerged without any impacts from the waves, before being levelled out and landed on the seabed. Divers monitored the process from below to ensure accurate placement.
BPS CEO Timothy Finnigan said the usually powerful swell at this site abated enough for the installation to be completed smoothly and successfully.
“Installation of the bioWAVE in the Southern Ocean marks the culmination of an intensive development phase, and the beginning of a testing and demonstration phase for bioWAVE. We will now turn our attention to commissioning the plant for operation, and we aim to be delivering electricity into the grid very soon,” Dr Finnigan said.
“This is a major achievement for Australia’s emerging wave power industry and represents another ARENA-supported breakthrough in renewable energy innovation,” added Ian Kay, ARENA’s acting CEO.
“The device will be tested and monitored throughout its operation to produce an independent performance assessment that will be shared with the energy industry in line with ARENA’s knowledge sharing agenda.”