Swinburne University of Technology has developed modelling on the performance of wave energy farms. The research identified the impact of Wave Energy Converters on each other in an array, and the impact of current flows in these arrays.
Many types of Ocean Wave Energy Converters are being developed and trialled worldwide, including several in Australia. These machines convert the ocean swell into power, a source of reliable renewable energy with great value to future electricity markets.
Wave power is an emerging sector and most technology trials involve individual or few devices. Once proven, more devices could be installed in arrays or ‘farms’. The nature of the sea means these wave energy devices may have a noticeable effect on each other. For example, an array of devices could act together as one collective machine, with significantly different behaviour to a lone device. This collective behaviour is currently not well understood.
A combination of mathematical modelling and laboratory experiments delivered the ability to predict the performance of small arrays of wave energy devices. Data from an ocean experiment also identified potential alterations to local ocean currents around arrays.
This project helped increase collaboration amongst the ocean energy industry, sharing knowledge and data to further the sector.
The modelling software enables communities, state and federal governments to assess the benefits and impacts of developing the ocean-wave energy resource in a particular area. Industry and investors now have an impartial assessment of the performance of arrays, enabling negotiation of large developments with greater confidence. The research has also uncovered superior wave power device arrangements, benefitting performance.