The Australian Renewable Energy Agency announces a $770,000 grant for Swinburne University of Technology to develop modelling on the manner by which wave energy farms operate. This funding represents another boost to the development of renewable energy sources in the country. Globally, the wave energy farm industry is coming out of the closet. Currently, there are already a few multiple device installations operating in some parts of the world. There is therefore a need to predict the best way to arrange future projects that will help to better understand how various technologies will behave in different conditions.
Swinburne University is now partnering with several interested Australian companies involved in wave energy. Apart from providing funds and staff support, these companies will also take an active part in the steering of the project.
Wave energy farm industry
With this arrangement, the cooperating parties hope that the project will produce the right results that will be useful to all those involved in the wave energy farm industry. Aside from Swinburne University, the parties involved in the start-up project include ARENA, and CSIRO which will provide the data from Carnegie’s Perth Wave Energy Project.
Data is also being collected from the ARENA supported CSIRO Wave Atlas, which will be used to assist in improving the accuracy of the mathematical modelling.
The researchers are tasked to create and develop a user friendly and publicly accessible software tool that will be used in gathering site-specific information. The software can also be used to obtain regulatory and planning approvals.
The power of this new wave energy software
Once the software is developed, it can be used around the world by wave energy technology developers. By using this software, the developers will be able to identify the best designs for ocean wave energy devices at specified locations.
Five researchers from the Australian Maritime College are also joining the effort in the development of the software. “Wave power is an emerging sector and most technology trials involve individual or few devices,” says Dr. Irene Penesis, project leader in the AMC.
“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,” she adds.
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“For example, an array of devices could act together as one collective machine with significantly different behavior to a lone device. This collective behavior is currently not well understood and we are aiming to fill this knowledge gap,” explains Penesis.
Other supporters of the modelling project are different Australian wave energy companies such as BioPower Systems Pty Ltd and Carnegie Wave Energy Ltd. The additional funding brings the total project value to $1.5 million.
There is already a similar collaboration undertaken by the Australian Maritime College, Swinburne and CSIRO. This was the CSIRO-led ARENA-funded Emerging Renewables Measure Program Australian Wave Energy Atlas project.
This former project collaboration was designed to find ways to improve the accuracy of the array interaction models by investigating the potential alteration to local ocean currents around arrays.