Ocean energy company BioPower Systems (BPS) completed the deployment of its 250kW bioWAVE pilot demonstration unit off the coast near Port Fairy, Victoria in Australia.
The $21 million wave energy project has been in development by BPS for three years, with $11 million funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and $5 million funding from the Victorian Government.
BPS CEO Dr Timothy Finnigan said the usually powerful swell at this site abated enough for the installation to be completed smoothly and successfully.
“Installation of the bioWAVE in the Southern Ocean marks the culmination of an intensive development phase, and the beginning of a testing and demonstration phase for bioWAVE. We will now turn our attention to commissioning the plant for operation, and we aim to be delivering electricity into the grid very soon,” Dr Finnigan said.
The bioWAVE was deployed by a crane-equipped ship, which transported the device to the site and lowered it into the water. The structure was angled slightly, piercing the surface like a diver to avoid any impacts from the waves, before being levelled out and landed on the seabed. Divers monitored the process from below to ensure accurate placement.
Acting ARENA CEO Ian Kay congratulated the team at BPS on successfully deploying the device.
“This is a major achievement for Australia’s emerging wave power industry and represents another ARENA-supported breakthrough in renewable energy innovation,” Mr Kay said.
“BPS has overcome a range of logistical and technical challenges over the better part of a decade, taking BioWAVE through extensive research, design and testing phases. Developing new technologies takes considerable time and resources and government support is crucial for enabling this process.
“The device will be tested and monitored throughout its operation to produce an independent performance assessment that will be shared with the energy industry in line with ARENA’s knowledge sharing agenda.”
The unique bioWAVE device is a 26-metre tall oscillating structure designed to sway back-and-forth beneath the ocean swell, capturing energy from the waves and converting it into electricity that is fed into the grid via an undersea cable. The design was inspired by undersea plants and the entire device can lie flat on the seabed out of harm’s way during bad weather.