INHABITAT by Bonface Landi
In about one month’s time, a remote Tasmanian island will be powered by wave energy. If the test project is successful, King Island residents will enjoy renewable energy harnessed from wave swells. This will make the island one of the few places on Earth where three forms of clean energy are used. Currently, about two-thirds of the island’s energy needs are covered by wind and solar power.
The island of 1,700 people is being used as an example of how renewable energy can be adopted in the modern world. The project has been backed by federal agents and other investors, and it is led by Wave Swell Energy, a progressive energy company based in Australia. Tom Denniss, the co-founder of Wave Swell Energy, explained how the wave energy harnessing system works.
“It’s very much like an artificial blowhole,” Denniss said. “There’s a big underwater chamber that’s open out the front, so the water is forced into the chamber. It pushes that air back and forth. The movement of air that spins the turbine and produces electricity.”
Studies have shown that Australia’s southern coast has the potential to generate huge amounts of wave energy. A study carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) found that the huge swells of waves on the coast can generate commercially viable power. Research showed that if wave energy is well-harnessed in Australia, it could cover up to 11% of the country’s energy needs by mid-century.
“Clearly there’s a massive wave resource. It’s definitely a resource worth pursuing,” Denniss said. “We’ll have something soon but it’ll still be relatively small. It’s the future we’re looking towards.”
The project uses a boat-like structure that floats on water. The structure is expected to harness about 200kW of power, but Wave Swell Energy has plans for a bigger model.
“This is just a demonstration of the technology at this stage,” Denniss explained. “The aim of the project is to get a good estimate and generate data on how much it produces in different-sized waves. We want to see all different-sized waves so that we know across the full range of conditions what the unit can produce.”
Via The Guardian
Image via Hans B.