The project named CETO, off Garden Island in Western Australia, delivers energy to a nearby desalination plant which delivers zero-emission fresh water from the waves. It will also supply power to Australia’s largest naval base, HMAS Stirling, located on the island.
“This is the first array of wave power generators to be connected to an electricity grid in Australia and worldwide,” said Ivor Frischkneit, CEO of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which provided $13 million of the $32 million project.
The Australian-made system has been developed over 10 years with onshore, wave tank and ocean testing. It operates by means of submerged, underwater buoys which move with the motion of the waves to drive pumps in the seabed. The pumps feed high-pressure water to the nearby hydroelectric power station and desal plant.
Planning and design work has already begun on new, larger buoys which aim to deliver around four times the power of the existing units.
Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane officially switched on the project. He said:
“Australia has great potential for further wave energy applications, with the resources on our south and south-west coast among the best in the world. It makes sense to tap into this renewable potential.”