Country Reports

 

OVERVIEW

A key highlight for Australia’s ocean energy (OE) community was re-instatement of Australian membership in OES. Membership is currently supported by a grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and their International Engagement Program. Improved communication and interaction nationally and with international community is already evident. Participation in the OES task groups is proving to strengthen domestic OE community connections and networks, which contributed to a highly successful second annual ocean energy conference in November 2018. 

Notwithstanding the challenges, a number of Australian developers and researchers are engaged in a few well-advanced development and research projects, primarily tidal and/or wave energy. Four Australian companies are developing devices for local sites, and another 2 Australian company projects are planned for deployment outside Australia. One device, MAKO tidal, was deployed in an Australian port in 2018. A national wave energy resource assessment was completed in 2017 and is available via the Australian Wave Energy Atlas. A national tidal energy resource assessment is under way, and a new wave energy research centre has been established in Western Australia. A proposal to establish a centre for offshore wind and wave energy in South Australia has also been shortlisted as part of an Australia-China Science research-funding initiative.  The industry continues to strengthen as a result of the formation of the Australian Ocean Energy Group (AOEG), a virtual ocean energy cluster, which evolved from the Australian Marine Energy Taskforce and seed funding provided by the National Energy Resources Australia (NERA). AOEG will be formally established in early 2019.


 

SUPPORTING POLICIES FOR OCEAN ENERGY
 
 
NATIONAL STRATEGY
The lack of a national Ocean Energy Policy in Australia is a major challenge for the Australian OE sector. This is despite the fact that Australia has considerable wave and tidal ocean energy resources. The development of the emerging ocean renewable energy (ORE) industry could build Australia’s blue economy, while actively contributing to committed carbon mitigation measures (reference CSIRO report). 
 
While there is no government-led policy, the sector has come together to produce a few key documents:
  1. A White Paper (Hemer et al) was also published in mid 2018 to document the recommendations arising from a stakeholders workshop held in late 2016. At the workshop, ocean energy technology and project developers, researchers, academics, policy makers and other stakeholders in Australia’s emerging ocean energy sector came together to identify the challenges and develop possible pathways to grow ocean energy in Australia. The paper is titled: Perspectives on a wave forward for Ocean Renewable Energy in Australia, and is published in the journal, Renewable Energy (2018) 127:733-745. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2018.05.036
     
  2. An ‘economic survey’ was commissioned by the former Australian Marine Energy Taskforce (AMET) and independently conducted by BDO Sydney. The report was completed in December 2018.  The new AOEG is planning to complete a Commercialisation Support Plan in 2019, whose results are expected to contribute to future ocean energy policy development.
     
  3. The Commonwealth Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) commissioned an internal “ocean energy assessment” to review prospects for the medium- and long-term development of ocean energy in Australia. The report, completed and submitted to ARENA in November 2018, will influence future ocean renewable policy.
 
A number of actions were identified in the White Paper on Australian Ocean Energy (Hemer et al 2018), however these actions have not been prioritised. They include:
  1. Technical/ Research actions– 
     
    • Engineering - convergence of the device technologies to a reduced and optimal number of device types that best suited to Australian geographical or economic circumstances would be ideal. Also, some consideration of ORE best integrate with other low-emission energy technologies and storage solutions would help to focus Australian efforts in the OE sector.
       
    • A national test facility – Establishment of a test facility is widely desired.
       
    • Data - Establish multi-year datasets measuring performance and effects of deployment are needed. Also a regular review of the knowledge, and learnings from failures to identify knowledge gaps priorities for targeted research activities. A knowledge base on the potential environmental impacts of device deployment continue to be collected, preferably independent of the project proponent(s)

       
  2. Policy and Regulation and environment actions– 
     
    • Develop a national policy framework to continue the growth of the renewable energy target beyond the current levels set for 2020-2030 in Australia.
       
    • Clear international guidelines for assessing technologies would aid decision making processes. Developers will ideally follow best practice pathways for technology readiness levels. 
       
    • Australian engagement in the international discussion for integrated ocean planning and management with due consideration of ORE is required (Warner, 2012). A framework for management of multiple sectors in the marine environment is needed. Improving the consistency of marine policy between jurisdictions will support ORE project development. Appropriate planning frameworks would ultimately help the industry by smoothing the development process, giving greater certainty and timelines for approvals, providing social license to operate, and avoiding costs associated with potential approval-related project delays. 
       
    • Strong engagement with indigenous Australia should underpin ongoing development of ORE in Australian waters
       
  3. Communication actions - A sectoral voice to inform policy in Australia, via an Ocean Energy network is a strong need expressed by the sector. Great progress has been made in developing the Australian OE community network, with the reestablishment of OES membership, alongside the formation Australian Ocean Energy Group (AOEG). 
 
The national Energy Policy governs ocean energy indirectly in Australia. The Australian government departments that deal with ocean energy include:
  • Department of Environment and Energy
  • The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)
  • Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC)
  • Clean Energy Regulator (CER)
 
In November 2018, an independent survey conducted by BDO Sydney assessed the economic significance of the ocean energy sector to Australia. For the year ending 30 June 2018 six ocean energy technology developers (wave and tidal) disclosed combined expenditures of approximately $16.6m. Of this expenditure approximately 60% is paid to Australian residents, a strong economic investment in Australian expertise. Expenditure for next year (for the period from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019) is expected to substantially increase to $29,5m– a 77% increase. This does not take into account the expanded economic value when all associated industry participants are included.
 
Investment in ocean energy research and development in Australia in 2018 included Commonwealth funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and National Energy Resources Australia for ocean renewable energy research projects totalled approximately $AUD1.5m for 2018, with co-investment from project partners adding a further approximately $AUD3m investment. The Western Australian State Government has been another major public investor, via the Albany Wave Energy Research Centre, with a further approximately $AUD1m for research in 2018.  Investment in research of a similar magnitude is expected for 2019.
 
 
MARKET INCENTIVES
There are currently no market incentives in Australia for ocean energy systems.
 
 
PUBLIC FUNDING PROGRAMS
There are three national funding programmes that support ocean energy, including:
  • Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)
  • Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC)
  • National Energy Resources Australia (NERA)
 
Each of these agencies support a wide range of renewable and clean energy initiatives. This means that finding funding for ocean energy in Australia can be difficult, as any ocean energy initiatives and proposals must compete with more highly developed technologies for their funding.
 
 
 
OVERVIEW OF MAIN RESEARCH ACTIVITIES IN 2018:
 
Following a successful project to map Australia’s wave energy resource (http://nationalmap.gov.au/renewables/#share=s-gGd5ztFcxe2ysy9f), a project to map Australia’s tidal energy resource (http://austen.org.au/) is in its second year – led by University of Tasmania (AMC) and CSIRO. The project will cover a number of fronts including:
  • Implementation of COMPAS (unstructured coordinate system) on a national grid to assess national scale tidal resource. The unstructured mesh (COMPAS https://research.csiro.au/cem/software/ems/hydro/unstructured-compas/) is constructed using a dual weighting function, being a function of both bathymetry and tidal amplitude, to achieve highest resolution in regions of higher interest. A neap-spring simulation has been completed, with ongoing development of COMPAS code (parallelisation), refinement of the model mesh, calibration and validation activities ongoing.
     
  • Developing Multi Criteria Evaluation of prospective tidal energy sites in Australia. This process will use weighted selection methodology to identify regions with both large tidal resources, demand for power and capacity to grid and off-grid connections.
     
  • A field campaign. The team is processing the data from a field campaign site in the Banks Strait, Tasmania, and selection of second site is under consideration. Further development, calibration and validation of fine scale numerical model at the first site and integration of tidal turbine arrays is under way.
     
  • Plans to develop technical and economic modelling of integrating tidal turbine arrays at the suitable tidal locations
 
A new hub for marine energy research and innovation, the Wave Energy Research Centre (WERC), is led by the University of WA and is collocated in Perth and Albany was established in 2018. Over 30 research staff are working at the centre in marine renewable energy (including approximately 10 PhD students), working across, metocean analysis, physical oceanography, hydrodynamics and offshore geotechnical engineering.
 
WERC was established with funding from the Australian Research Council and ARENA, totalling about $2.2M. $3.75m of “Royalties for Regions” funding from the WA Government over a 4-year period and $1M matching contribution from UWA (+$6m in-kind). A specific aim of the WERC is Assist with the development of the Albany Wave Energy project by Carnegie Clean Energy (CCE), with contributions including:
  • analysis of operational performance of CCE CETO6M wave energy converter, with  outcomes to be used to design the device against extreme conditions and yaw instability; 
     
  • wave-by-wave prediction models are also being developed to optimise CETO6M energy generation performance
     
  • Torbay resource assessment and development of a locally adapted numerical model (with 35-year hindcast and real-time capability) and a coupled wave-circulation model.
 
University of Adelaide is working with Carnegie on multimodal point absorbers control systems using local HPC 400Megaflops and 5634 cores for numerical experiments, validated with local flume experiments. Two devices of interest, multi-moored device similar to CETO6, and a single point mooring asymmetric point absorber, are both demonstrating greater power returns than traditional devices. The university proposal to establish new Joint Australia-China Research Centre for offshore wind and wave energy has been shortlisted to the final 16, where 6-7 will be funded. A final decision expected in December 2018 for a start in early 2019. 
 
Swinburne University of Technology - Ongoing activities include a PhD project on nonlinear WEC behaviour with an emphasis on coastal protection, and projects on laboratory and numerical modelling of environmental impacts of WECs.
 
University of NSW Water Research Lab is undertaking a study of tidal energy in the Cook Islands. They have completed a 6-month field investigation on the potential of tidal energy in the Cooks Islands with deployment of multiple instruments in Muri Lagoon. This new field data will be used to perform a more detailed resource assessment along Rarotonga shoreline. The potential for coastal protection benefits of ORE and the impact on beach recovery post-storm will also be considered. 
 
Griffith University Centre for Coastal Management is focused on wave climate studies at both the global and very nearshore local scales, and is also active in coastal processes research which may be useful, for example, for studies into the interaction of OE technology with the coastal ocean/morphology. A Coastal Engineering Research Field Station on the Gold Coast funded by an ARC LIEF grant in collaboration with the Gold Coast Waterways Authority, University of Queensland and University of Newcastle, has a range of monitoring equipment including a wave radar, manometry, lidar and cameras. Monitoring data collected will assist with wave climate model development and performance evaluation in the very nearshore. A 1979 to present wave hindcast dataset for the nearshore coastal waters of the Gold Coast region extending down to Ballina in the south and the Sunshine coast in the north is under development. This model is a downscaling of CAWCRs CFSR driven hindcast. Evaluation of 2D wave spectra model output is planned against wave buoy derived spectra including global scale hindcast datasets and locally downscaled model output. This will contribute to the analysis of the latest COWCLIP global wave climate ensemble to quantify the sources of uncertainty and variance amongst the ensemble members.
 
 
 
PROJECTS IN THE WATER 
There are aspirations to establish test sites in Australia, but there are none yet.
 
MAKO Tidal Turbines has installed a MAKO turbine system at Gladstone Port, a large port in eastern Australia.  

 
 
PLANNED DEPLOYMENTS 
 
Projects under development planned to be soon deployed in the sea include:
  • BOMBORA is currently working on the financial arrangements for their first commercial array project in Europe after the completion and validation of their mWaveTM prototype of 1.5 MW in Wales;
     
  • MAKO Tidal Turbines installed a MAKO turbine system at a large port in Australia while simultaneously progressing to a demonstration site in South East Asia. 
     
  • Nandy’s R&D Pty Ltd has moved through the proof of concept stage with plans to develop a full-sized pilot project. 
     
  • Wave Swell Energy is working on funding its 200 kW wave energy project to be located on King Island.
     
  • Carnegie is moving now with the design of CETO 6 wave energy device of 1.5 MW. 

 

 

 
Australian ocean energy events in 2018 included:
  • Australia recently held its 2nd Australian Ocean Renewable Energy Symposium (AORES; Perth, Nov 21-23, 2018) following on from the very successful inaugural symposium held in Melbourne in 2016. AORES fosters collaboration and future growth of the Australian ocean renewable energy sector (wave, tide and offshore wind) by bringing together industry, academics, policy makers and other stakeholders to share information on the latest domestic developments and scientific advancements. At both AORES events a number of international and industry leaders delivered keynote presentations providing valuable a global context. 
     
  • As part of AORES 2018, an ocean energy Industry Roundtable was held including: a Developers Showcase with presentations from Australian OE companies, on their respective technologies and their emerging markets; plus two separate panel discussions on market opportunities for ocean energy technologies, one focused on domestic opportunities and the second one on export opportunities. 
     
  • Tidal Energy Workshop (Nov 2018 Perth) – a full day workshop was held to share the results to date of the AUSTEn project, a three-year project to map Australia’s tidal energy resources in unprecedented detail, as well as assess Australia’s tidal energy’s economic feasibility and ability to contribute to Australia’s energy needs.  
     
  • All Energy symposium held October 2018 – a well-attended and engaging marine energy panel discussion was held.
 
Two international events will be held in Australia in 2020:
  • Asian Wave and Tidal Energy Conference (AWTEC) 2020, will be hosted by University of Tasmania (AMC) and CSIRO.
     
  • 31st International Conference on Coastal Engineering (ICCE) 2020 – will be co-hosted by UNSW, Water Research Laboratory (WRL) in September with a marine renewable session likely.
 
 
Other relevant activities: 
Members of the Australian ocean energy community expressed strong interest in joining the International Electrotechnical Commission Technical Committee 114 (IEC TC114). In 2018, national coordination was initiated by AMET and discussions are under way with Standards Australia to establish Australia’s membership in the international committee.