Powering Australia with waves

August 17, 2010

Wave energy is surging ahead as a viable source of renewable energy to generate electricity -- with Australia's southern margin identified by the World Energy Council as one of the world's most promising sites for wave-energy generation.

One problem for developers, however, is that previous estimates of wave-energy potential are based on information in deep , while "wave-energy generation systems are typically positioned near to shore," says physical oceanographer Mark Hemer of Australia's CSIRO Wealth for Oceans National research flagship.

In a paper in the AIP's Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, Hemer and colleague David Griffin provide new estimates of the wave-energy potential of Australia's near-shore regions. They also calculate how much of Australia's energy needs could be obtained from wave energy alone. Australia's present-day consumption is 130,000 gigawatt-hours/year. Hemer and Griffin show that if 10 percent of the near-shore wave energy available along Australia's Southern coastline could be converted into electricity, half of the country's present-day electricity consumption would be met.

Australia has committed to reducing by 60 percent of year 2000 levels by 2050. Although an economic analysis of wave generation in Australian waters has yet to be carried out, Hemer says that wave energy offers a "massive resource" to contribute to the Australian Government's aim of producing 45,000 gigawatt-hours/year of additional renewable energy before 2020. "Convert 10 percent of available wave energy from a 1000-km stretch in this area to electricity, " Hemer says, and "the quota could be achieved by wave energy alone."

Explore further: New work on leading wave power

More information: doi:10.1063/1.3464753

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2 / 5 (1) Aug 17, 2010
Energy is not created from nothing. Where did that energy used to go and what happens without waves hitting the shore on a large scale? My guess is all that energy turned into heat as waves hit the shore which powers evaporation. So colder shores and less rain? Also less mixing of water so less oxygen in shore areas and more dead zones? Might still be a good idea. half of all energy needs is worth some sacrifice.
not rated yet Aug 17, 2010
This is a great step forward in the right direction. As of now we can create 4,000 times the amount of annual energy the world consumes within a year, yet we still use our outdated, dirty, fossil fuel system like a terminal patient to life support. This technology is not only limited to Australia, England for example can collect 30% of its total energy from tidal turbines and wave-energy. Hopefully with countries like Australia and Denmark setting the standard in renewable energy, others will follow. Wave-energy is an easy step to take, the question is will we ever rid ourselves of fossil fuels even though we have the technology now to do so.
not rated yet Aug 17, 2010
This is a great step forward in the right direction

Actually, it's not a step at all, it's just another study with no real prospects. Australia's current govt was voted in to a large extent because the party was promising major action on climate change. They couldn't get any policies passed as they were blocked in parliament and subsequently dropped them completely (and the party leader). In fact a new election is now days away and neither major party is campaigning on climate. A vague pledge to reduce GHG emissions by 5% by 2020 has been touted, but even that is dubious. So I wouldn't be holding my breath that this is any kind of a step in the right direction.
not rated yet Aug 18, 2010
DamienS is exactly right. I am Australian, and Damien really summed it up perfectly. However the "3rd Party" in the Australian democracy, the "Greens" is polling significantly better than they ever have before, so hopefully we will move in the right direction soon.

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