Australia’s tidal energy resource will be mapped in unprecedented detail in a new study funded by the Commonwealth Government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
ARENA has provided $2.49 million in funding support for the three year project which will explore the future potential of tidal energy in Australia to attract future investment.
The $5.85 million project, ‘Tidal Energy in Australia – Assessing Resource and Feasibility in Australia’s Future Energy Mix’, will be led by the Australian Maritime College at the University of Tasmania, in partnership with CSIRO, the University of Queensland and industry partners.
The project will create an online atlas mapping tidal energy nationwide to the nearest 500 metres. The project will also involve a full feasibility study of two high potential sites, and modelling of existing tidal energy devices at these sites.
ARENA chief executive officer Ivor Frischknecht said this project will help to unlock the potential of tidal energy to contribute to Australia’s energy needs.
“This research will help Australia to better understand tidal energy and help to maximize renewable energy into the market,” he said.
“Ocean energy technologies are in their early stages of development. With ARENA’s help, we hope to see exciting steps forward being made in understanding the benefits of tidal energy.”
Lead researcher associate professor Irene Penesis said this survey will overcome current barriers to investment in commercial scale tidal farms in Australia.
“With some of the largest tides in the world, Australia is ideal for this extremely reliable and low carbon form of energy,” said Penesis.“But potential investors are currently held back by a lack of detailed information on tidal resources that would help them understand the risks and opportunities available.”
“This project will address this knowledge gap and provide the information that developers need to deploy their technology in the most energetic tidal sites in Australia.”
Four industry partners OpenHydro, Protean Wave Energy, MAKO Tidal Turbines and BioPower Systems will make financial contributions and provide the researchers with proprietary information on their tidal energy devices, as well as commercial implementation knowhow.
The project will also benefit from collaboration with international researchers from Acadia University, Canada, and Bangor University, UK.
The data produced by this research may also be used for a range of other purposes, such as environmental management, shipping, defence, oil and gas exploration and offshore wind and wave energy.