Although Wave Swell Energy (WSE) is a young company, having been registered with ASIC in October 2016, the risks associated with the technology are low and well understood. Twenty-five years of experience in developing both the oscillating water column (OWC) and turbine, including the benefit of several devices installed in the real ocean, has provided a vast depth of experience and information which minimises the risks and enhances the likelihood of the success of the WSE project on King Island.
The OWC is constructed from concrete using simple moulds and steel reinforcing. While the nominal life of a project is given as 25 years, this is more for accounting purposes to calculate the amortization of the unit. The OWC will actually survive for fifty or even a hundred years. Concrete caissons of a similar size and shape, used in the Normandy landing during World War II, are still in existence in the same location, with little evidence of structural wear and tear. Large concrete structures weighing thousands of tonnes (as is the case with the WSE OWC) are one of the few things that are highly resistant to the ravages of the ocean.
While the WSE turbine is not expected to exhibit the same immunity to ocean conditions as the OWC, it will readily survive the nominal device life of 25 years. Past wave energy turbines, including those developed by WSE personnel, have operated properly for many years without any unexpected issues. In addition, the WSE turbine is of a simpler design and is more robust than any previous wave energy turbine deployed in the real ocean. Standard regular maintenance of components such as bearings will ensure the turbine’s operational ability throughout its life in the ocean.
Overall, the WSE technology has been fine-tuned over a quarter of a century. This fact, coupled with the company’s wealth of experience in construction of similar units, provides an unusually high level of confidence in the success of WSE projects planned for King Island and elsewhere. Many wave energy companies have embarked upon their first project with a complicated and untested technology, and no experience. Wave Swell Energy will be embarking on its first commercial demonstration project with a simple and independently tested and verified technology, along with unparalleled experience in the sector. The technology has essentially been de-risked.