Ocean waves, tidal and non-tidal ocean flows, collectively known as Ocean Renewable Energy (ORE), are attracting increasing interest in Australia as a potentially viable source of renewable energy. Recently, the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship (WfO) was commissioned by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Community (DSEWPaC) to produce maps of wave, tidal and non-tidal ocean fl ow energy distributions around the Australian coastline.
These preliminary energy distribution maps, produced from the best available existing information, provide evidence of substantial, but imprecisely quantified, potentially extractable energy. Several Australian and overseas companies have initiated ventures to use ORE for grid-connected electricity generation and/or related uses such as desalination. With this growing interest, WfO and the CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship (ETF) jointly conducted a study to assess the potential of ORE in Australia and to identify research and development gaps and opportunities CSIRO could investigate for the country’s benefit.
The study begins with an assessment of Australian ORE resources and their potential for providing accessible forms of renewable energy (e.g., magnitudes, extent of variability and forecasting). Ocean energy conversion devices and their characteristics are then considered, together with specific examples of devices for which performance data are available. Issues in setting up “farms” of multiple devices are described, along with an assessment of how much energy might be extracted from specific coastal locations identified by the resource survey. The analysis concentrates particularly on wave energy as the most likely form of significant ORE in Australia. This information is then used to develop scenario projections of the possible market share of wave energy in Australia up to 2050. Facilitation issues, including competing uses such as shipping and fishing are considered, with a brief commentary on broad environmental aspects of significant ORE activity. Finally, there is a brief survey of Australian (including recent R&D) and international ORE developments and activities.