Carnegie Wave Energy has officially switched on the onshore power station for its Perth Wave Energy Project, thus launching the world’s first commercial-scale grid connected wave energy array and marking the first time in Australia that wave-generated electricity has been fed into the grid.
The switching on of the plant, attended by federal resources minister Ian Macfarlane, caps off nearly 10 years of work by Carnegie Wave, and extensive testing over 2014 after the successful installation of the Perth company’s CETO 5 wave energy generation units – two installed so far, one more to come – off Garden Island.
The project will sell power to the Australian Department of Defence to supply Australia’s largest naval base, HMAS Stirling, which is located on Garden Island. It will soon also sell fresh water to the base, once Carnegie’s newly commissioned desalination plant is fully integrated into the project.
Carnegie’s unique, Australian-made CETO technology moves with the ocean’s waves to drive tethered seabed pumps and operates under water, providing protection from storms and corrosion.
The submerged pumps feed high pressure water onshore to the hydroelectric power station and desalination plant, supplying renewable energy and fresh water.
“This is the first array of wave power generators to be connected to an electricity grid in Australia and worldwide,” said Ivor Frischknecht – CEO of the Australian Renewable Energy Association, which provided $13 million of the $32 million project.
“During the testing phase, the first 240kW peak capacity CETO 5 wave unit operated successfully for more than 2,000 hours.
Frischknecht noted that Carnegie was already taking the next steps to move its technology towards competitiveness with other sources of power generation.
“Planning and design work has begun on Carnegie’s next generation CETO 6 technology, supported by $13 million ARENA funding,” he said.
“These larger units are aiming to deliver around four times the capacity of CETO 5 units, improving efficiency and reducing energy generation costs.
“This progress is a clear example that given time, and with the right government support, emerging renewable energy technologies can progress along the innovation chain towards commercialisation,” Frischknecht said.
“The lessons learned through Carnegie’s ARENA supported projects are being shared with the renewable energy industry to help reduce the hurdles facing other wave energy projects.”
Carnegie Wave CEO Michael Ottaviano said that the fact this was the only wave power station operating anywhere in the world was “a testament to the innovation and diligence of the Carnegie team.”
He also thanked the WA and federal governments, which had both supported the project financially, through grants.