$2.49m award tops year of achievements for marine renewable energy researchers

It’s been a successful year for marine renewable energy researchers at the Australian Maritime College.

They have just been awarded $2.49 million funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to lead a project aimed at overcoming current barriers to investment in commercial-scale tidal farms in Australia.

The project follows hot on the heels of two successful commercial consultancy projects that were facilitated by AMC Search.

In September 2016, researchers worked with tidal energy developer MAKO Turbines to deploy a prototype device in Tasmania’s Tamar river for testing and optimisation — the first such field trial of its kind in Australia.

In February 2017, it was announced that a novel wave energy device from Wave Swell Energy that was tested at AMC is heading for commercial application.

As well as testing the performance of the device — and finding it to be more efficient than a traditional turbine — AMC carried out site characterisation work for a potential deployment location.

With support from specialist sub-contractors, the AMC + AMC Search team carried out bathymetric mapping and seabed surveys, including gathering sediment samples, for a location near Tasmania’s King Island.

With these consultancy projects under their belts, the marine renewable energy researchers, led by Associate Professor Irene Penesis, are launching their new project — Tidal Energy in Australia – Assessing Resource and Feasibility to Australia’s Future Energy Mix — with CSIRO and the University of Queensland.

Associate Professor Irene Penesis said that the new grant was welcome acknowledgement of the team’s successes to date.

“It’s wonderful to have been recognised for the marine renewable expertise that we have here at the Australian Maritime College.

“The breadth of our experience means we are ideally-placed to lead a range of scientific and commercial projects, from multi-million dollar research grants to testing single prototype devices for individual developers.”

“The breadth of our experience means we are ideally-placed to lead a range of scientific and commercial projects, from multi-million dollar research grants to testing single prototype devices for individual developers.”

MAKO Turbines Managing Director, Douglas Hunt, explained that the company decided to join the three other commercial partners in the new ARENA-funded project following their positive consulting experience.

“We were delighted with the results of working collaboratively with AMC, from tank testing through to full-scale deployment of our tidal turbines. We’re partnering on the new ARENA project because we believe it will further accelerate development in the ocean energy industry in Australia as a springboard for global expansion,” he said.

“We were delighted with the results of working collaboratively with AMC, from tank testing through to full-scale deployment of our tidal turbines.”

“We’re partnering on the new ARENA project because we believe it will further accelerate development in the ocean energy industry in Australia as a springboard for global expansion,” he said.

AMC Search CEO, Dean Cook, congratulated the marine renewable energy research team for their research and consulting successes.

“AMC Search is proud to be able to support them and the ocean energy companies that need affordable and flexible tank testing or deployment for in-situ testing.

“In addition to testing facilities, marine infrastructure, vessels, seafarers, marine operations know-how and engineering expertise, these projects require a dynamism that AMC Search can provide, and that has been key to the positive outcomes we see today.”