Tidal power is a huge potential for renewable energy

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has provided part funding for a nearly $6 million dollar project titled ‘Tidal Energy in Australia – Assessing Resource and Feasibility in Australia’s Future Energy Mix ‘ the project will be led by the Australian Maritime College in partnership with CSIRO, the University of Queensland and industry partners.

The three year project will involve a full feasibility study of two high potential sites, and modelling of existing tidal energy devices at these sites. It will also create an online atlas mapping tidal energy nationwide to the nearest 500 metres and explore the future potential of this technology in Australia with the aim to attract future investment.

Tidal energy is generated by harnessing the movement of tides. Tides contain both
potential energy, related to the vertical fluctuations in sea level, as well as kinetic energy,
related to ocean currents. A modern tidal generator works much like an underwater wind
turbine, harnessing the current created by the tide.

ARENA Chief Executive Officer Ivor Frischknecht said this project will help to unlock the
potential of tidal energy to contribute to Australia’s energy needs.

“This research will help Australia to better understand tidal energy and help to maximise
renewable energy into the market,” Said ARENA Chief Executive Officer Ivor Frischknecht

The project will also benefit from collaboration with international researchers from Acadia
University, Canada, and Bangor University, UK, both of which are at the forefront of global
developments in tidal energy.

Four industry partners OpenHydro, Protean Wave Energy, MAKO Turbines and
BioPower Systems will also make financial contributions and provide the researchers with
proprietary information on their tidal energy devices, as well as commercial
implementation know ­how.

The data produced by this research may also be used for a range of other purposes, such
as environmental management, shipping, defence, oil and gas exploration and offshore
wind and wave energy.

The project will deliver:

  1. Resource map: development of a national scale hydrodynamic tidal model to map
    the scale and distribution of the nation’s tidal energy resources to the nearest 500 meters.
    The results will be published in an online resource atlas.
  2. Full feasibility assessment of high potential sites: focused case studies at two
    high potential sites including field measurements, hydrodynamic modelling and
    environmental impact assessment.
  3. Technical and economic feasibility assessment: development of an economic case for
    connecting high ­potential sites to Australia’s electricity infrastructure, with consideration
    of national grid, end ­of ­grid and off ­grid application.

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