After a decade and a half developing its wave energy technology, the Sydney-based company, Oceanlinx, is on the brink of launching its patent oscillating water column technology onto the global market. All it needs is a final boost of funding, which it hopes to receive from the Australian government’s clean energy loan scheme.
AUS$80 million and 15 years after Oceanlinx’ founder, Dr Tom Denniss, set out to develop a new wave energy device, the company’s CEO, Ali Baghaei, revealed today in The Australian that the company is close to commercially launching its wave energy device.
Baghaei told the Australian daily that the company would be applying for funding through the federal government's AUS$10 billion clean energy loan scheme to enable it to take that final step to launch.
"The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is a huge step in the right direction for those involved in renewable technologies, as well as associated manufacturing and engineering industries," Mr Baghaei said, however Mr Baghaei stressed that in recently Australia had let valuable clean energy intellectual property slip through its fingers.
"The timing of financial support for renewable technology projects is critical. It's not an industry where you can sit on your hands and wait patiently for a green light," Mr Baghaei said. "Australia was too slow off the mark when it came to financially supporting wind farms, and that intellectual property went overseas. Hopefully, we have now learned our lesson."
Mr. Baghaei revealed that around AUS$70 million spent by Oceanlinx on its wave energy technology had come from foreign investment. "That just shows how much potential that small companies like ours can have on the global market, and it also shows how valuable renewable technologies are thought to be," he said.
Oceanlinx has developed and refined its technology over the past fourteen years to such a point that it is now commercially competitive with other forms of renewable energy, such as on-shore wind. Over the past eighteen months, major technological breakthroughs have led to a significant enhancement of the Oceanlinx greenWAVE and airWAVE products. This has resulted in a step change in the production cost of power from the technology.
Oceanlinx has, to date, installed a total capacity of 750 kW via three separate projects in the real ocean, including being the first and only Australian company to sell electricity to the local grid through a power purchase agreement, and one of only three companies worldwide to do so. These projects have resulted in over 40,000 hours of operational experience, 5,000 hours of electrical production, and 8,000 hours of scale testing.
greenWAVE is a direct evolution of the MK1 unit, installed and operated since 2005. A rigorous development and testing program during 2008/09 resulted in a five-fold increase in efficiency of the core oscillating water column (OWC) technology.
The airWAVE turbine is a combination of Oceanlinx’s original Denniss-Auld and more recent partial admission turbines. A 30% increase in turbine efficiency was achieved through a combination of testing regimes, including sea trials.
Evolution of these two products now means Oceanlinx can produce electricity at costs comparable to the most mature forms of renewable energy in good wave climates, and puts it in a great position to launch commercially should it find the remaining funds needed.