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How a Perth company created the world’s most advanced wave energy device

The CETO6 is the world’s most advanced wave energy device, Carnegie says. IMAGE: Carnegie.

 

It might look like something out of an alien invasion movie but this is the cutting-edge of our attempts to harness the power of the waves.

And for an island nation, surrounded by oceans, it’s an idea that holds hugely-exciting potential.

Perth-based Carnegie Clean Energy has long been at the forefront of wave energy worldwide. Last month, the company announced plans for a new wave energy project as well as a National Wave Energy Research Centre at Albany, on the Western Australian coast.

That project, more than five years in the planning, relies on $15.75 million of recently-announced funding from the Western Australian Government and also involves reallocating ARENA funding of $11.6 million, which is committed to foster design and testing of a new, innovative piece of technology that has been kept under wraps until now.

The company has now proudly unveiled that latest advance in the attempt to make clean, renewable energy from the regular and unrelenting force of Australia’s waves.

The updated CETO 6.

It is, Carnegie says, the most advanced wave energy device anywhere in the world. And it will generate far more electricity than its predecessor.

“As other renewable technologies become more cost competitive, we need to continue to drive innovation into CETO and be prepared to disrupt our own thinking,” Carnegie Chief Executive Dr Michael Ottaviano said.

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“Wave energy is the last globally untapped renewable resource and in the best locations it delivers energy 24/7.

“By effectively harnessing the massive untapped resource in waves and converting it to energy, this technology will be game changing.”

HOW IT WORKS

Carnegie will design, manufacture and install an updated CETO 6 unit offshore from Albany during the 2019/2020 summer.

Named after a Greek sea goddess, CETO is the Australian company’s proprietary system, which has been developed over more than a decade, through several iterations. The company holds more than 140 patents involving the technology that makes up each unit.

A new US patent was issued for the CETO 6 in early November.

From a distance, as it bobs up and down and pitches sideways with the tide, the new CETO 6 unit looks like giant robotic jellyfish. In reality, it is a fully submerged buoy (known as a Buoyant Actuator). While previous versions have been tethered to a pump on the seabed, the updated CETO 6 will have its pump inbuilt, resulting in a much larger unit with a diameter of 20 metres.

READ MORE: THE STATE THAT’S SURFING AN ENERGY WAVE

Carnegie’s CETO 5 device, which was installed and commissioned in late 2014 was also supported by ARENA under the Perth Wave Energy Project (PWEP).

That project was the first array of offshore wave power generators to be connected to an electricity grid anywhere in the world and completed 14,000 cumulative operating hours, the highest ever recorded in the global wave energy industry.

The combination of improvements, including the inbuilt pump and a change in the way the unit is anchored to the sea bed means that power production will be greatly enhanced. The new CETO 6 will have a nominal capacity of 1.5MW, as opposed to the 1MW capacity of its predecessor.

MOOR FOR YOUR MONEY

Previous incarnations of Carnegie’s technology featured a single tether line that is fixed to a single mooring on the sea floor.

The updated CETO 6 features a revamped design with multiple moorings. It has long been understood that wave energy convertors with multiple moorings would be more efficient energy producers because they can capture energy in heave (vertical), surge (horizontal) and pitch (rotational) motions rather than simply by moving up and down.

But creating a device with multiple moorings has proved challenging due to the additional costs associated with each foundation. Carnegie has created an innovative solution featuring ‘networked’ moorings that can have multiple devices to be tethered to them.

The multiple mooring points of the CET6 are a significant advance. IMAGE: Carnegie.

 

MODELLING

The other great breakthrough in the new design comes from a greater understanding of how the units move in the water so as to maximinse their efficiency. Carnegie has devoted significant resources to becoming a world leader in this area, developing state-of-the-art hydrodynamic modelling capabilities.

The company has used Perth’s Pawsey Supercomputer to run more than 20 billion simulations during the past year, an unprecedented amount of analysis that has given birth to a new device with world-leading hydrodynamic design.

Carnegie has big plans for wave energy, saying it ultimately hopes to locate a 100MW wave farm on the site. To begin with, production will be more modest, with a 1.5MW updated CETO 6 installed initially and plans to scale up to a 20 MW array as a next step.

 

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The state that is betting big on surfing an energy wave

Clean energy, unrelenting and regular, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It’s an enticing prospect and one that Australian company Carnegie is hoping to make a commercial reality as it announces that a new wave energy project as well as a National Wave Energy Research Centre will go ahead at Albany, on the Western Australian coast.

The project, which has been more than five years in the planning, will now go ahead with the Western Australian Government committing $15.75 million after the local company won out in a competitive tender process.

A further $3.75 million has been granted by the WA Government to the University of Western Australia to establish the research centre, which will attempt to build on Carnegie’s project to position Australia as a world-leader in this emerging form of renewable energy generation.

The Wave Energy Research Centre will bring together more than 30 researchers, extending on Carnegie’s work in wave, tidal and offshore wind energy. It represents a significant bet by Western Australia on the exciting possibilities offered up by wave energy converters, which have existed for decades but are still finding their sea legs as a commercial-scale form of power generation.

In order to help make the project a reality ARENA has granted conditional approval for Carnegie to relocate the remaining $11.7 million from ARENA funding of $13 million that was originally allocated to deploy its next generation CETO 6 at Garden Island.

The new CETO 6 will be larger than its predecessors. IMAGE: Carnegie.

HOW IT WORKS

The Albany Wave Energy Project will be the first demonstration of Carnegie’s CETO 6 technology in Australia. The Project will design, manufacture and install a CETO 6 unit in Carnegie’s existing licence area offshore from Albany during the 2019/2020 summer.

Named after a Greek sea goddess, CETO is the Australian company’s proprietary system, which has been developed over more than a decade, through several iterations. The company holds more than 140 patents involving the technology that makes up each unit.

From a distance, as it bobs up and down, the CETO units look like giant robotic jellyfish. In reality, it is a fully submerged buoy (known as a Buoyant Actuator). While previous versions have been tethered to a pump on the seabed, the CETO 6 will have its pump inbuilt, resulting in a much larger unit with a diameter of 20 metres.

Carnegie’s CETO 5 device, which was installed and commissioned in late 2014 was also supported by ARENA under the Perth Wave Energy Project (PWEP). That project was the first array of offshore wave power generators to be connected to an electricity grid anywhere in the world and completed 14,000 cumulative operating hours, the highest ever recorded in the global wave energy industry. 

The CETO 5 oscillates in harmony with the ocean’s waves, transferring energy through a tether (a marine grade rope) and causing a pump to extend and contract. The pump pressurises fluid which is then sent onshore through a subsea pipeline. Once onshore, the high-pressure fluid is used to operate an off-the-shelf hydroelectric power plant.

 

The current model CETO 6 works differently, with the energy generation taking place as part of the submerged unit (rather than onshore). The company says more details about an updated CETO 6, which will form the basis for the Albany project, will be released in coming weeks.

“Wave energy has the potential to take advantage of our technology and resource advantage to build an industry we can commercialise locally and export globally,” Carnegie’s Managing Director, Dr Michael Ottaviano said.

“Having a globally recognised Wave Energy Research Centre in Western Australia will also attract national and international interest from research and industry participants.”

Carnegie will continue to use the Garden Island site for its own wave energy research and prototype testing as well as working with other wave energy developers.

THE PROJECT

Carnegie has big plans for wave energy, saying it ultimately hopes to locate a 100MW wave farm on the site. To begin with, production will be more modest, with a 1MW CETO 6 installed initially and plans to scale up to a 20 MW array as a next step.

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In addition to demonstrating Carnegie’s WA developed and owned technology, the Project will also deliver common user infrastructure at the Albany site which Carnegie will make available for other wave energy industry developers once the CETO 6 project is complete.

As well as demonstrating the CETO 6 prototype the project aims to harness a highly consistent renewable resource, delivering clean power into the electrical grid.

The Albany Project also represents an opportunity for Australia to develop world-leading capacity in the design and development of wave projects. Carnegie’s team believes its CETO technology holds an advantage over some competitors in that the entire unit is housed underwater. Over tie, that could lead to significant export opportunities.

WAVE ENERGY RESEARCH CENTRE

Associated with Carnegie’s Albany Wave Project is the establishment of the national Wave Energy Research Centre to be run by the University of Western Australia’s Oceans Institute and UWA’s Albany Campus. The local Western Australian investment aims to develop a wave energy industry, creating domestic and export opportunities.  

Carnegie will play a significant role in the Wave Energy Research Centre through close collaboration with UWA and all of the Research Centre partners. This will include sharing the Project’s site-specific surveys and common user data. 

 

 

 

 

Tidal Energy in Australia – Assessing Resource and Feasibility to Australia’s Future Energy Mix

Mapping the deep: It’s time to turn the energy tide

The tide is renewable and relentless. Where the sun can energise photovoltaic panels for a variable handful of hours a day and the wind can blow turbines for days on end but equally disappear for extended periods without warning, the tide is near constant and entirely predictable.

Estimates suggest, at the best locations, tidal energy could power a turbine for between 18 and 22 hours a day, every day. At a time when a rising proportion of electricity generation comes from inconstant sources, and the need for reliability has become a mantra in public debate, the tides along Australia’s vast coast are potentially a significant untapped resource.

Though invisible in most discussions of the future of electricity – tidal energy didn’t rate a mention in chief scientist Alan Finkel’s recent review of the future of the National Electricity Market – there has been interest from some investors in the possibility of tidal energy. Usually, they ask authorities for information about the potential for development around the continent. Until now he answer has basically been: we don’t really know.

Researchers tow a tidal turbine into position in the Tamar River, Tasmania. PICTURE: MAKO

Australia’s tidal resource has only been modelled to a resolution of 10km – not fine grained enough to be meaningful given the impact of local geography.

This gap should be filled through a new $5.85 million project, led by researchers at the University of Tasmania’s Australian Maritime College in partnership with ARENA, the CSIRO and the University of Queensland. ARENA has contributed $2.95 million.

The three-year plan involves developing a national hydrodynamic tidal model that can map the tidal energy resource to 500m and identifying the most promising regions for energy extraction. The results will be published in an online atlas similar in style to a CSIRO wave energy map completed earlier this year.

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There will also be a detailed feasibility study of two sites with potential for a commercial-scale tidal plant. And there will be an assessment of the cost of connecting high-potential tidal energy sites to either the national grid or off-grid sites.

 

HOW IT WORKS

In simple terms, a tidal turbine works like a wind turbine, with blades rotating 12-to-18 times a minute depending on tide strength. The turbine is connected to a gearbox that turns a generator, creating electricity. Projects are under way in Canada’s Bay of Fundy and at testing sites in Ireland and France, and the maritime college recently completed a trial in Launceston’s Tamar River for Australian manufacturer MAKO Tidal Turbines.

Project chief investigator Irene Penesis, an associate professor at the maritime college, says Australia’s potential installed tidal energy capacity could easily exceed 1.5GW – roughly the scale of Hazelwood, the giant Victorian brown coal generator that was retired in March.

 

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One of the high-potential sites that will be studied is Banks Strait, which stretches between Tasmania’s north-eastern tip and the Furneaux island group. Dr Penesis says it could have a capacity of 350MW, generating about three terawatt hours of electricity a year – nearly a third of what Tasmania uses annually. It could be connected to the national grid or off-grid to Flinders Island, which is currently reliant on a diesel-fuelled generator.

A MAKO tidal turbine. Picture: University of Tasmania.

Other prospective sites are largely in the far north. The Clarence and Dundas straits near Darwin have an estimated combined resource of 1.3GW. The Torres Strait is about 500MW. King Sound, north of Broome, has great potential but is quite shallow and particularly remote.

ARENA’s Scott Grierson says far-flung sites could support off-grid mining, minerals processing and potential export industries in renewable hydrogen and ammonia.

All sites will face a challenge to become economically viable, but Dr Penesis says tidal energy has advantages – predictability, being less in need of back-up, having low visual impact, working effectively on or off grid – that suggest it could become affordable relatively quickly. “It has some greater advantages over some of the other marine (wave, offshore wind) resources. We expect it can have a faster cost reduction by 2030,” she says.

 

Carnegie CETO 6 technology

Wave energy cost reduction through location and configuration optimisation

Tidal Turbine Reef Feasibility Study

Energy cost study for Bombora Wave Energy Converter

New study to uncover wave energy costs

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing $181,000 funding to support Bombora Wave Power (Bombora) to complete a detailed cost of energy study for its Wave Energy Convertor (WEC).

Bombora’s WEC design uses a responsive rolling membrane fitted to a long concrete arm resting on the sea floor. The membrane pressurises air, which is passed through a turbine to generate electricity.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said harnessing energy from the ocean required determination, ingenuity and time.

‘Bombora has been developing its innovative wave energy device for five years. This study is an opportunity for Bombora to prove the case for its technology and continue the journey towards a commercial solution that could strengthen Australia’s position as a leader in wave power,” Mr Frischknecht said.

The $362,000 study will involve key suppliers for all major components of the system, refining earlier investigations including design reviews and production costing.

The cost of energy study is due for completion in March 2016.

 

An epic tale of adventure

ARENA is working hard to accelerate the shift to a more sustainable, affordable and secure energy system.

To do that, we break our investment into portfolios: these include areas like solar PV, solar thermal, off-grid solutions and bio energy. Part of my role involves our effort in a particularly fascinating technology area: marine power.

To me it’s not just a portfolio, it’s an epic tale of adventure on the high seas! It’s about dreamers, who spent years developing, testing, refining and re-testing their technology; all the time looking to find the best way to harness the power of the ocean.

The CETO5 wave energy project is a perfect illustration of this. It’s the fifth generation of Perth company Carnegie’s world-leading wave energy conversion device. The project tested three quarter-scale devices set in an array – like a small wind farm.

Each one costs as much as a Supermaxi in the Sydney to Hobart – but instead of three days battling against the elements, Carnegie navigated – with ARENA’s help – more than three years of challenges from the drawing board through construction, deployment and maintenance to final results.

The CETO5 demonstration operated for more than 13,000 hours, providing valuable data on the device’s energy conversion performance and on how to deploy and maintain a wave array at sea. It’s the first successful grid-connected wave array demonstration in the world.

Next steps are the test of big sister CETO6 – the full scale version – proving how wave, solar PV and storage can combine to deliver power at a price cheaper than diesel for remote coastal and island communities.

So what’s the big deal? Why have we invested so much money, time and effort into this area, particularly when the technology lies like sunken treasure beneath the waves?

Ultimately the answer is the potential value of marine energy to Australia’s future energy mix – in particular wave.

The CSIRO’s Alex Wonhas has said that wave energy could provide as much as 10 per cent of Australia’s future electricity needs by 2050 – that’s roughly enough electricity to power Melbourne.

Wave energy is more predictable, and needs less space than other renewable energy technology types.
There are many who predict that solar will be the renewable energy technology that, combined with a bit of wind energy and battery storage, will take care of our future needs.

Perhaps. But it’s worth remembering that as distributed solar take-up increases, and the summer peak electricity demand starts to flatten, the winter peak stays relatively stable. If that trend continues, by the early 2030s, Victoria’s winter peaks could be higher than summer, meaning there may be a place for a high-yield, low impact winter source of energy (such as wave).

Carnegie is probably the most advanced wave company globally – but there are challenges (and challengers) along the way. Like battery storage and biofuels, wave energy in particular needs to stack value or realise other value streams (such as the island power market) to be competitive in the near term.

So next time you’re at the beach, spare a thought for those dreamers working away on turning the motion of the ocean into the energy of tomorrow.

—–

By Andrew Newman (Strategy and Knowledge Sharing)

 

Andrew‘s areas of speciality include marine energy, integrating distributed energy and energy storage. He has a Masters of Environmental Law and has published on subjects including environmental planning law, corporate social responsibility and Chinese and Indian climate policy. Away from work he is passionate about cricket, the Sydney Swans and trivia.