The first wave energy project in the Southern Hemisphere is set to commence operation in Western Australia next year, with the federal government announcing almost $10 million in funding today.
WA-based energy company Carnegie will begin construction of Australia's first commercial scale grid-connected wave project next year, which will be located on and around Garden Island, with power delivered by the end of 2013.
Energy Minister Craig Ferguson today announced the federal government would contribute $9.9 million as part of the Emerging Renewables program, with the state government contributing $5.5 million under the Low Emissions Energy Development program.
Mr Ferguson commended the project for showcasing innovative Australian technology, and said the by-product of emission-free desalinated water was a "welcome bonus".
"This is where I see Australia growing into renewable energy jobs of the future," he said.
As well as being the first such project in the Southern Hemisphere, the project also uses Australian-owned and developed CETO technology, which is the only of its kind in the world.
Developed in WA over the last 10 years at a cost of $60 million, CETO differs to other wave energy technology by operating out of sight and underwater, where it is anchored to the ocean floor and generates electricity onshore, rather than offshore.
The CETO units move with motion of passing waves, driving pumps which deliver pressurised water to shore via a pipeline, which in turn drives hydroelectric turbines.
In addition to generating zero-emission electricity, the pressurised water delivered ashore can also be used to supply a desalination plant.
The unique Australian technology has already been snapped up by the world's largest electricity generator, French company EDF, for use on Reunion Island.
The project's onshore power generation facility will be located at Australia's largest naval base HMAS Stirling, and is expected to produce 2 megawatts of electricity by 2014, with later expansion to 5 megawatts.
A diver inspects an actuator operating off Garden Island.
A CSIRO study last year found Australia's wave energy alone was capable of providing three times Australia's annual energy consumption, which was 50,000 megawatts.
Carnegie chief executive officer Dr Michael Ottaviano said the project provided a unique opportunity for Australia to become a "technology provider rather than technology taker".
Australia could rival Scotland, Dr Ottaviano said, which was trying to capture the wave energy industry by virtue of its offshore engineering experience and good wave resources.
"We've got just as much, if not more, competent offshore engineering experience from the oil and gas industry and our wave resources are some 20 times greater than Scotland," he said.
State and federal government funds will comprise half of the project's $31.2 million cost, with New York-based investors Lind group also providing funding.
Carnegie has signed memorandums of understanding with the Department of Defence and West Australian retailer, Synergy.
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