The summary in this section was provided by John Wright, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
Ocean energy development continues to be active in Australia. There are 19 identifiable ocean energy developers in Australia consisting of 11 wave and 8 tidal. Currently there are four major governmentsupported commercial or pilot scale installations under construction, together with plans for other ocean energy activities in both wave and tidal at various stages of development.
Australia has very large potential ocean energy resources, which have been confirmed in a study conducted by CSIRO and syndicated with industry and government1. This study was publically released in July 2012. The study concludes that to capitalise on those resources will require overcoming problems such as distance to the existing grid from the resource centres, competition with other low emission technologies on initial and lifetime cost, meeting the investment criteria of the financial sector and demonstrating the environmental credentials of ocean energy.
Ocean Energy Policy
Strategy and National Targets
In November, the Federal Government released The Energy White Paper 2012, Australia’s energy transformation2. This paper sets out a strategic policy framework to address the challenges in the energy sector and position Australia for a long term transformation in the way energy is produced and used. While the white paper acknowledges the magnitude of Australia’s ocean energy resources, there is little direct reference to the technology and it is generally referred to in combination with other forms of renewable energy.
The Federal Government has specified a renewable electricity supply target of 20% by 2020. This is broken into large scale devices and small scale systems, focused mainly on rooftop PVs. The large and small scale systems attract renewable energy certificates which can be traded to retailers who have to purchase the renewable energy3. There are no specific allocations for different technologies within the 20% target.
In 2011, the Federal Government introduced legislation for an initial carbon tax of $23/t of CO2 on the top 200 “polluters” from July 2012. The carbon tax will transition in 2015 to a carbon emissions trading scheme.
Over time, the above mentioned measures should assist to improve the economic case for ocean energy development in Australia.
Support Initiatives and Market Stimulation Incentives
The Federal Government has established the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to bring together a number of previous renewable energy schemes and create new renewable energy investment totalling $3.2 billion4. ARENA offers part funding for research, development, demonstration and commercialisation to be integrated and will provide continuity of support for the full range of developing renewable energy technologies, including ocean energy. Applications in the form of expressions of interest and “measures” aimed at promoting renewable energy in Australia can be made at any time. There are no limits on funding amount requests or proportion of project costs sought from ARENA.
Relevant Documents released
Documents relevant to the development of ocean energy in Australia include the Energy White Paper (2.1) and the CSIRO study “Ocean Renewable Energy: 2015 – 2050: An Analysis of Ocean Energy in Australia”.
Research & Development
Government Funded R&D
The majority of ocean energy research is done through the Australian university research system financed largely by the Australian Research Council (ARC). A number of Universities are involved in ocean energy research. These include the University of Tasmania’s Australian Maritime College, the University of Wollongong, the University of New South Wales Water Research Laboratory, the University of Sydney and spinoff companies from the University of Queensland testing facilities. This, and work by other universities, focuses on a wide range of topics of general interest in the ocean energy domain.
CSIRO’s research has been focused on Australia’s ocean energy resource base and the economics of inclusion of ocean energy in the technology suite in Australia out to 2050. This has been largely exploratory. The development of specific ocean energy extraction devices has not, and is not likely to be in the future, a priority for the organisation.
Industry Funded R&D
An industry association, Ocean Energy Australia (OEIA), has been formed to provide a level of coherence to pilot and commercial scale developments in Australia5. OEIA currently has eleven industry members. OEA’s vision is to “help Australia meet its clean energy future through a thriving and vibrant ocean energy sector”. OEA aims to progress in three initial areas, namely a public education initiative, the preparation of ocean energy development strategy and building best practice for ocean energy governance in Australia.
There are 19 companies active in Australia, varying in scale from concept development to demonstration to commercial deployment. The industry sums invested are commensurate with the scale of achievement. Those companies which have been successful in gaining government grants have had to invest at significant scale.
Participation in Collaborative International Projects
Several Australian companies have strong links with overseas partners assisting to develop their technologies. These include Carnegie, Ocean Power Technology Australia and Oceanlinx. At present, Australia is involved with the Ocean Energy Systems Implementing Agreement though the CSIRO. Currently a temporary (observer status) agent is being used to maintain OES links until a permanent Executive Committee member and alternative is appointed.
Operational Ocean Energy Projects
Currently Australia has no commercial ocean energy projects in operation. The largest project proposed to date is a 62.5 MW Ocean Power Technologies Australia (OPTA) array (28 buoys) off the coast of Victoria. OPTA aims to install the first three “Power” buoys by the end of 2013 and will complete the 28-buoy array with “larger versions” of its modules by 2017. This is contingent on financial close for the first stages of the $230 million project at the end of this year or early next year. The project was awarded a $66 million grant by the Federal Government in 2009, initially with the involvement of the Australian construction company, Leighton Holdings. Leighton has now been replaced by Lockheed (USA) to assist with project development and manufacturing requirements.
Carnegie Corporation has recently received a $15.5 million Federal Government grant for the $31 million Perth Wave Energy Project (Western Australia). The total project size is up to 2 MW and demonstrates Carnegie’s previous smaller-scale CETO technology funded in part by the State Government of Western Australia. Five CETO units are to be deployed, with each “buoyant activator” of 11 metres diameter delivering 240 kW. Power delivery to the grid is planned for the end of 2013.
Oceanlinx has received a $4 million Federal Government grant for a $7 million project to demonstrate the operation of their “GreenWAVE” (shallow water) oscillating water column technology 4 km off the South Australian coast. Grid connection is anticipated for the end of 2013.
In July 2012, it was announced that BioPower Systems received a $5.7 million grant from the Federal Government to develop a $15 million bioWAVE pilot demonstration project off the coast of Victoria. The project has also received funding support from the State Government of Victoria ($5 million). The bioWAVE pilot is expected to be deployed in late 2013.
The tidal company, Tenax Energy has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Northern Territory’s Power and Water Corporation to develop a 2 MW pilot plant, and a Research and Tropical Tidal Testing Centre based on the Clarence Strait near Darwin (the capital of the Northern Territory). If the 2 MW pilot plant is successful, it will be followed by a 10 MW pilot array test facility. It is intended that the testing station will be used to trial a number of different turbines and technologies in the Clarence Strait.