Clean ‘Energy Islands’ Planned For Australian Coast

A project is under way to create a series of “energy islands” off the south coast of Australia, which could combine wind and wave power capture devices.

The concept — which the designers say is the first time the two renewable power sources have been combined in this way — could potentially mean an energy bonanza.

Offshore Wind Turbines

image via Shutterstock

The “island” in effect is an off-shore rig with six oscillating water column wave energy devices submerged below the sea and wind turbines fitted on top.

The idea is the brainchild of New York-based Marine Power Technologies (MPT), which has signed a contract with Scottish engineering firm Wood Group Kenny to provide engineering support and project management.

According to Wood Group Kenny, the triangular-shaped “island” will be capable of generating up to 10 megawatts of power.

The firm said six or more rigs may be linked together to create an “Energy Farm,” with an estimated could supply power to 16,500 Australian households per year.

In a statement Tom Engelsman, CEO of MPT said: ”The founders, directors and board of MPT have been thoroughly impressed with Wood Group Kenny’s work to date, and look forward to bringing the “Energy Island” to market with their team”.

In spite of the makers’ claims, this is not the first time wind and wave power have been combined.

We previously reported on Danish company Floating Power Plant (FPP) when it introduced its prototype Poseidon 37 power generator two years ago.

The 754 foot long commercial plant makes use of technology developed to to keep oil rigs afloat in high seas and will produce 50 gigawatt-hours of hydro (through wave power) and wind power each year.

The floating power plant relies on its stability for its success. Since wind farms tend to fare best in rough, choppy seas that test the limits of the toughest materials and fittings, FPP borrowed from designs developed through the extensively funded R & D of the oil industry to come up with their device.

Wood Group Kenny expertise is in oil and gas; according to its web site it is “the world’s largest specialist subsea, pipeline and riser engineering and management contractor.”

Based in Aberdeen, the company will initially undertake an eight month work phase broken down in to two parts. The first part will involve data gathering relating to environmental and technical issues, and after the data gathering process is done it will move on to a conceptual study to define the layout and configuration of the rig.

The company is also being asked by MPT to identify suitable locations for “Energy Islands” along Australia’s southern coastline, where it says there are significant wind and wave energy resources.

Paul Willis has been journalist for a decade. Starting out in Northern England, from where he hails, he worked as a reporter on regional papers before graduating to the cut-throat world of London print media. On the way he spent a year as a correspondent in East Africa, writing about election fraud, drought and an Ethiopian version of American Idol. Since moving to America three years ago he has worked as a freelancer, working for CNN.com and major newspapers in Britain, Australia and North America. He writes on subjects as diverse as travel, media ethics and human evolution. He lives in New York where, in spite of the car fumes and the sometimes eccentric driving habits of the yellow cabs, he rides his bike everywhere.

    • Efriismadsen

      This doesn’t make sense:”…50 gigawatts of hydro (through wave power) and wind power each year.” Maybe 50 gigawatt hours a year is what is meant?

      • Pete

        Your surmise was correct: It should have said 50 gigawatt-hours per year. Now fixed. Thanks for your note!

        Pete Danko
        Managing Editor, EarthTechling