How Australia could harness its tides and energy

Harnessing Australia's tides for energy

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]”.

Renewable energy accounted for only 6% of Australia’s primary energy consumption and 17% of its electricity production in the fiscal year 2017-2018, by country Department of Environment and Energy, This is partly because Australia has abundant and cheap coal resources.
But renewable energy is growing and Australia has increased wind production for 20% and solar by 23% that year.
The island nation is just beginning to explore the power of the tides through the series pilot projectsBut this form of energy has one big advantage: predictability. While the sun may not be shining or the wind may not be blowing, the sea is moving in predictable tidal currents.

Enabling tidal accessibility

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Installing large tidal power systems can be expensive. The world’s largest tidal power plant, Sihwa Lake in South Korea, cost almost $ 300 million build 2011

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.

The wind at sea could power the world

“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.

While the tide energy potential may seem huge like the ocean, there are challenges to overcome. Recorded by CSIRO that “the size of this resource is not sufficiently quantified.” One 2017 EU report indicates a lack of research into the possible impacts of tidal installations on marine life and more considers the high cost of building barriers to tidal energy activation around the world.
The Australian government is currently investing in various ocean energy projects, He says this will allow policymakers to better understand how the power of tides and waves can contribute to a country’s energy mix.
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