Among those using this tidal potential is Sydney-based Mako Energy. The company produces underwater turbines with a diameter of between two and four meters. One turbine operating in constantly running water they can produce enough electricity to power up to 20 homes.
Their design allows them to produce electricity even in slow-moving waters, meaning 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 implemented in remote communities, coastal companies, island communities and resorts,” Douglas Hunt, 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 comes from coal,” explained Jenny Hayward, a scientist at Australia’s national science agency CSIRO. “We have both wind and solar PV [photovoltaic]”.
Enabling tidal accessibility
The Mako turbine costs between $ 20,000 and $ 70,000, depending on the power and location set aside.
So far, Mac’s customers have been predominantly large industrial and government deposits, but it wants to make its turbines available to energy customers large and small.
“Gas turbines existed, but the challenge was to build them cost-effectively,” Hunt said.
Reducing costs means that turbines could be available to anyone from coal-fired power plants who want to add green energy to their work and offshore coastal communities.
“It’s built to a scale where maintenance is easily accessible to individuals without expert crews,” Hunt said. This means that a community, business or household with access to running water could produce its own power and service its turbines locally.
“We want to contribute to an energy mix that is less dependent on fossil fuels, empowering local businesses and communities to create their own power from a predictable and abundant source hidden from view – often flowing directly through communities,” says Hunt.