The Australian Renewable Energy Agency late last week announced “the launch of the world’s first one megawatt wave-energy-to-electricity unit.” It’s an exciting but slightly curious launch announcement, in as much as the massive wave energy converter is not in the water. It is, however, apparently ready to get wet.
The Aussie agency, which goes by the initialism ARENA, can be forgiven its excitement. It has, after all, put out $4.4 million of the $8 million that the company Oceanlinx is spending on the project in South Australia.
“With ARENA’s support, Oceanlinx has designed and constructed a one megawatt wave energy device to convert the ocean’s power into electricity and is now preparing to commission and test how well it can feed this into the national electricity grid for 12 months,” the agency said.
There are, of course, plenty of other wave energy devices in development, and a number that have been in and out of the water, particularly at the European Marine Energy Centre in Scotland. In fact, on Monday, Aquamarine Power announced that its Oyster 800 was back in operation in Orkney after a several months of upgrades.
At 1 MW, the Oceanlinx Greenwave device (they write it greenWAVE) is indeed more powerful than the Oyster, assuming it actually produces as expected. It’s also a whole different type of device than the hinged, wage-surge-converting Oyster.
The Greenwave, reportedly more than 3,000 tons, is in the oscillating water column category of wave energy devices. With its girth, it just sits on the ocean floor, unmoored, partially submerged in waters less than 15 meters deep. An opening under the water line allows water in as a wave hits, driving a column of air through a turbine that produces energy. The passing of the wave and falling of the water reverses the effect, but the device still profits from the spinning of the turbine as air is pulled back through the column.
The plan is to install the device off Port MacDonnell, South Australia.
“Following the testing period, there is potential for Oceanlinx to scale-up its device and increase the power generated up to ten megawatts, contributing more renewable energy into South Australia’s electricity mix,” ARENA said.