Harnessing Australia's tides for energy

How Australia could use its tides for energy

Among those using this tidal potential is Sydney-based Mako Energy. The company makes underwater turbines with a diameter of between two and four meters. A turbine operating in constantly flowing water can produce enough electricity to power up to 20 homes.

Their design allows them to generate electricity even in slow-flowing water, which means that they can be used in rivers and irrigation canals, as well as in the ocean.

“We are developing turbines on a scale where they can be easily deployed in remote communities, coastal businesses, island communities and resorts,” Douglas Hunt, managing director of Mako Energy, told CNN Business.

Although tidal energy is still in its infancy, it could help reduce Australia’s dependence on fossil fuels.

“Most of the energy in the national grid is from coal,” said Jenny Hayward, a researcher at Australia’s National Science Agency, CSIRO. “We also have wind and solar photovoltaics [photovoltaic]. ”

Renewable energy accounts for only 6% of Australia’s initial energy consumption and 17% of its electricity production in the financial year 2017-2018 according to the country Ministry of Environment and EnergyThis is partly because Australia has abundant and cheap coal resources,,
But renewables are growing and Australia has increased its wind production with 20% and solar by 23% that year.
The island nation is just beginning to explore the tidal force through a series pilot projectsBut this form of energy has one major advantage: its predictability. As long as the sun may not shine or the wind may not blow, the sea will move with predictable tidal currents.

Providing access to tidal power

Large installations for large tidal systems can be expensive. The world’s largest tidal power plant at Lake Sihwa in South Korea cost almost $ 300 million for construction in 2011

The Mako turbine costs between $ 20,000 and $ 70,000, depending on power output and location.

So far, Mako’s customers are mostly large industrial and government sites, but it wants to make its turbines available to energy customers large and small.

“Tidal turbines exist, but the challenge is to build them efficiently,” Hunt said.

Reducing costs means that turbines can be accessed by anyone from coal-fired power plants who want to add green energy to their work, to offshore coastal communities.

Offshore wind can feed the world

“It’s built on a scale where people are easily accessible to perform maintenance without expert crews,” Hunt said. This means that a community, business or household with access to running water can generate its own energy and service its turbines locally.

“We want to contribute to an energy mix that is less dependent on fossil fuels by enabling local businesses and communities to generate their own power from a predictable and abundant source that is in sight – often flowing directly from past communities.” says Hunt,

Although tidal energy potential may seem as great as the ocean, there are challenges to be overcome. CSIRO notes that “the size of this resource is not sufficiently quantified.” One 2017 EU report points out the lack of research into the possible effects of tidal installations on marine life, and another considers that high construction costs are an obstacle to the deployment of tidal and energy capacities worldwide.
The Australian government is currently investing in various ocean energy projectsIt says it will allow politicians to better understand how the tides can contribute to the country’s energy mix.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *