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World’s first grid-connected wave energy station operational in Western Australia

waver energy diagram

 

In February 2015, the world’s first grid-connected wave energy station was switched on off the coast of Western Australia. The station is producing enough electricity to power around 1,500 to 2,000 households. The company behind the project, Carnegie Wave Energy, has been developing the $32 million pilot for 10 years and has had some $100 million invested into commercialisation.

Harnessing the energy produced by waves has been attempted by many companies over the years but as always faced its problems. What sets the Carnegie Wave Energy project (named CETO after the Greek goddess of the sea) apart from others is that it operates underwater. This means that is safe from large storms, corrosion and is also invisible from the shore, making it an attractive option for coastal developments. Additionally, the CSIRO estimates that wave energy is at least three times more predictable than wind energy.

CETO operates with the use of large buoys which are tethered to seabed pumps (situated around 25-50 metres deep). Waves hit the buoys which drive the pumps, which in turn push pressurised seawater through an underground pipeline to an onshore hydroelectric power station. This pressurised water then drives a turbine to produce electricity. Carnegie also has plans to use the project as a means of producing zero emission desalinated freshwater. Carnegie chief executive Michael Ottaviano believes that making the projects bigger will in turn bring the costs of production down. Mr Ottaviano sees a lot of potential in Western Australia as a location for wave energy stating that “…theoretically, the resources that hit our coastlines everyday could power the state 10 times over…”.

Last modified on Wednesday, 11 March 2015 12:54

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