Thursday, 28 April 2011

Carnegie makes waves with renewable energy

West Australian
20 April 2011, Page: 4

Carnegie Corporation Wave Energy has notched up a major win in the race to commercialise new renewable energy technologies, after becoming the first company in the southern hemisphere to generate electricity from the ocean's waves. The WA company was expected to announce this morning that it had successfully activated its first commercial scale CETO unit off Garden Island at the weekend, ahead of schedule.

The milestone, which comes after five years of testing its technology at selected sites across the country, means Carnegie Corporation is a step closer to producing the promised 5 MW of grid connected power from the site. Carnegie Corporation's technology developed by company founder and inventor Alan Burns, relies on buoys anchored on the ocean floor that use the motion of passing waves to drive pumps which then deliver pressurised water to shore.

The company will monitor power produced at the Garden Island site over the next month and if all goes to plan, will eventually install up to 30 units, enough to produce power for 3500 homes. Carnegie Corporation managing director Michael Ottaviano said yesterday the unit was producing power "exactly as expected". "This is the most significant milestone in Carnegie Corporation's history", Dr Ottaviano said. The State Government has invested $12.5 million in Carnegie Corporation's efforts to bring its CETO technology to market.

But despite Australia's reliable wave source, the company has increasingly been forced to look overseas for development funds. In 2009, it scrapped plans to develop the world's biggest wave energy project near Albany after it was overlooked for a major Federal Government grant. The $300 million pilot project had aimed to produce 50 MW of power, enough electricity for 30,000 homes. WA gets about 5% of its power from renewable sources, predominantly wind power. The Federal Government has set a national target of 20% by 2020.