Tidal energy technology is being trialled for the first time in Tasmania. A tidal energy turbine has been installed in the Tamar estuary in Launceston as part of a project to investigate and optimise the device’s performance.
Researchers at the Australian Maritime College (AMC) will be conducting field experiments with a 2.4 metre-wide prototype in partnership with Sydney-based developers MAKO Tidal Turbines.
According to the researchers, Tasmania is a location with huge renewable energy potential, and the site near Reid Rock was chosen due to its ideal current speed (almost 2.5 metres per second).
“Tidal energy technologies extract energy from marine currents and tidal movements,” said AMC project lead, Associate Professor Irene Penesis.
According to Penesis, this “exciting form of renewable energy” has yet to be trialled in Tasmania. She added that unlike solar or wind, tidal energy is completely predictable due to its consistent cycles.
In a comment to the ABC, MAKO Turbine’s managing director Douglas Hunt said tidal energy will work well with battery storage.
“Tidal energy is the perfect partner with batteries because of the predictability, but it’s also a great potential contributor to the energy mix with other renewables to ultimately displace the use of diesel power in generating power,” he said.
He also added that tidal energy will be among one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy.
“Tidal power has the capacity to generate electricity that could become part of the energy mix for local industries, small communities, coasts and islands,” said Penesis.
MAKO Tidal Turbines will be undertaking research into how full-scale turbines operate in a real-world environment, and ensuring that they have a low environmental impact. The testing will include the influence of turbulence and biofouling (organisms growing on the turbine), which may impede performance and affect the device’s longevity.