During December, 2017, the Wave Swell Energy (WSE) research team oversaw detailed testing of its technology at the Launceston-based Australian Maritime College (AMC), part of the University of Tasmania. The testing was conducted independently by AMC staff. The aim of the testing was to quantitatively validate the performance of (and wave loads on) the planned 200 kW peak demonstration unit proposed for King Island.
The 200 kW demonstration unit, being in shallower water (5.75 metres deep), was expected to exhibit a lower output per metre of device width than its deeper 10 metre counterpart. While this proved to be the case, the reduction in power production per unit width was less than expected. In fact, when the lower cost of constructing and deploying a shallower water device is factored into the cost-benefit equation, it is likely shallower water projects utilising the WSE technology may often turn out to be more cost effective than deeper installations.
These test results have far reaching implications for the economic viability of the WSE product. Prior to these tank tests, the expectation was the company would commence its commercial phase providing a Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) below 10 cents per kWh – a game changer in its own right. This expectation has now been enhanced.
And, these test results have ramifications that extend beyond just a lowering of the LCOE. The fact that a cost-effective version of the technology has now been validated in shallower waters opens up a much wider range of “real estate” in which the technology is commercially viable.
In summary, WSE is now able to confidently move into the future knowing it can produce energy from ocean waves at, not only a low price, but also across a much broader array of locations than originally envisaged.