Generating Wave Power Down Under

Wednesday, September 8, 2010 @ 07:09 PM gHale

Wave energy is surging ahead as a viable source of renewable energy to generate electricity.
One of the hot spots in the world is Australia’s southern margin, which the World Energy Council identified as one of the world’s most promising sites for wave-energy generation.
One problem for wave-energy developers, however, is previous estimates of wave-energy potential come from information in deep ocean water, while “wave-energy generation systems are typically positioned near to shore,” said physical oceanographer Mark Hemer of Australia’s CSIRO Wealth for Oceans National research flagship.
With that in mind, there are new estimates of the wave-energy potential of Australia’s near-shore regions, said Hemer and his colleague David Griffin. They calculate how much of Australia’s energy needs could be obtained from wave energy alone. Australia’s present-day electricity consumption is 130,000 gigawatt-hours/year. Hemer and Griffin said if they could convert 10 percent of the near-shore wave energy available along Australia’s Southern coastline into electricity, they would meet half of the country’s present-day electricity consumption.
Australia has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent of year 2000 levels by 2050. Although no one has yet to do an economic analysis of wave generation in Australian waters, Hemer said wave energy offers a “massive resource” to contribute to the Australian Government’s aim of producing 45,000 gigawatt-hours/year of additional renewable energy before 2020.
“Convert 10 percent of available wave energy from a 1000-km stretch in this area to electricity,” Hemer said, and “the quota could be achieved by wave energy alone.”

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