The change of government in Western Australia over the weekend has been welcomed by one of the state’s most successful renewable energy companies, in a political shift that perhaps heralds a new era clean energy investment in the state.
ASX listed wave power and microgrid specialist Carnegie Clean Energy said on Monday that the election of the Labor McGowan government had confirmed the party’s $19.5 million funding commitment for Carnegie’s Albany Wave Energy Project.
The project, flagged by the company last month as contingent on a Labor Party win, aims to develop a 20MW wave energy farm off the coast of Albany, using its CETO 6 technology, pictured above.
According to Carnegie, Albany has one of the most consistent wave energy resources in the world, experiencing greater than 1 metre swell, 100 per cent of the time.
The project – which would likely have its beginning as a 1MW pilot – would be aligned with the regions existing infrastructure, including an existing wind farm.
At 20MW, the project would be Australia’s first commercial scale wave farm, demonstrating the potential to deliver 24/7 renewable energy into the grid. From there, Carnegie says, the 20MW farm could spin out to a 100MW facility.
All this is not new – Carnegie has been working on plans for a wave farm in Albany for nearly a decade and has spent over $1 million on studies, surveys and designs for the region, including site assessment, wave resource mapping, licensing and site design.
Now, it can also tick off a state government that is committed to back the project, after Western Australia’s Coalition government was convincingly beaten at the polls by the Labor party led by Premier elect, Mark McGowan.
Like other state Labor governments around the country, McGowan’s team promises to be more supportive of renewable energy development than its predecessor – although the party has recently backtracked plans to introduce a 50 per cent renewable energy target for the state.
Having revealed plans to draw at least half of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2030 at a National Environmental Law Association conference in Perth in October, Labor energy spokesman Bill Johnston now says the party won’t introduce a target, but will have more ambition on renewables than the LNP.
“After the election, we will sit down with industry and the community to see what is achievable and affordable,” Johnston said in early February.
While many have criticised the party for its apparent backflip, Carnegie CEO Michael Ottaviano says his company is delighted to be working with the state’s newly elected government to deliver on the potential of wave energy at Albany.
“Wave energy justifiably demands the sort of investment that other power technologies, whether fossil fuel or renewable, have benefited from and the government’s $19.5million commitment is a strong step towards this,” he said.