by Steven Randall
The Southern Ocean has some of the most violent weather on the planet, with storms bringing weather up from the sub Antarctic regions to batter the southern coasts of Australia.
These storms come ashore on the southern coast of Western Australia, with seas often around 6 to 10 meters high, and can do heavy damage to property if it's in the wrong place....
But these waves carry huge amounts of energy, and it is that energy that will be used to generate large amounts of ZERO Emission electric power, if a plan by the West Australian government comes to fruition.
Tenders have been let for the construction of a major electric power generation system off the coast of Albany - actually in the Southern Ocean.
The technology that will be used has a number of variations; basically it involves construction of a machine that uses the vertical motion of wave movement around devices that can translate that movement into energy. This is usually done by the machine's movement being used to pump sea water ashore and through a simple turbine to generate electricity.
One such system has been developed by a West Australian company called Carnegie Clean Energy, and involves anchoring large floating Bouys on the sea bed, usually in 20 - 50 meters of water....
( Images courtesy of Carnegie Clean Energy).
The bouy moves up and down as the waves pass through, and this motion activates a large pump attached to the bouy. Sea water is pumped ashore to power a turbine to generate electricity....
( Image courtesy of Carnegie Clean Energy).
The system is also capable of driving a plant to desalinate sea water - a capacity becoming more and more essential in this country as our weather becomes drier, and rainfall less reliable for drinking water.
This system can work effectively in situations where the wave lift is only one meter high, and from personal experience (10 years as a small ships master off the Southern coast) I attest to the fact that the seas in this region give much more than one meter of lift.
The benefits of this technology are numerous and important. No natural element or product is damaged; the system is mounted underwater off the coast and so is not of any danger to marine craft; the technology is already functioning; generally standard equipment is needed for much of the construction except the underwater system, and the ocean provides literally unlimited movement - it is never still.
Some years ago an American company did a survey of the Australian coast line, to get an idea of the power generation capacity that was available to us...
It estimated that between Perth in West Australia, and Sydney in New South Wales, and operating in water no deeper than 50 meters off the coast, the potential energy generation was in the order of 170,000 megawatts, or 5 - 10 times Australia's total energy consumption at the time.
Wave Power has tremendous potential as one of the group of Renewable Energy sources, and, because of the constancy of ocean movement, would provide more stable power generation capacity than Wind or Solar. We will follow the Albany project's development and provide more information as it is available.
For more information on Renewable Energy projects and associated power generation in Australia, you are invited to view Business Maps Australia's new map...Australia's National Renewable Energy projects - 2017
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