Ocean-energy market innovation hub envisioned for WA


Wednesday, 11 May, 2022

Ocean-energy market innovation hub envisioned for WA

National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) has announced what it says is a world-first Integrated Ocean Energy Marketplace that will demonstrate the true potential of ocean energy. The WA-based project is being unveiled today as part of a step change to accelerate the adoption of integrated ocean energy.

Launched at the Australian Ocean Energy Group’s Market Summit in Hobart, the feasibility study will look into developing a two-stage Integrated Ocean Energy Marketplace (IOEM). The first stage will feature a digital platform and knowledge base, used to model various integrated renewable energy systems and to propose bespoke energy solutions for ’blue economy’ market users. The second stage will see the development of a physical, visitable marketplace situated near Albany, showcasing an integrated ocean energy microgrid, which will enable these market customers to see, interact with and gather real-time information about ocean energy solutions.

Driven by the Australian Ocean Energy Group (AOEG) cluster, which was established with support from NERA in 2018, the IOEM will show end-user markets how ocean energy can meet their needs, leading to the increased adoption of wave and tidal energy, increased accessibility to technology and increased understanding around affordability.

By bringing together global technology providers, renewable energy contributors and specialist suppliers with transitioning energy customers, the IOEM is focused on scaling, commercialising and de-risking the ocean energy sector.

AOEG Cluster Manager Stephanie Thornton said Australia’s energy markets are largely unaware of the benefits of integrating ocean energy with other renewables, including offshore wind.

“We need to address this and raise the market’s awareness of the benefits of multipurpose offshore energy parks that can optimise energy planning solutions as well as deliver low-carbon solutions to marine-based industries and communities,” she said. “We’ve identified there are four main barriers to the adoption of ocean energy — awareness, accessibility, affordability and commercial project delivery. The IOEM project has been designed to address these challenges head-on and directly connect key end users to technical solutions in development.

“The blue economy market sector presents a large and immediate opportunity for wave and tidal energy to have a significant decarbonisation impact. Through the IOEM we hope to demonstrate our vision. We believe seeing leads to understanding and understanding underpins adoption. This philosophy is at the heart of AOEG’s vision for the marketplace.”

The IOEM project’s first stage is a virtual marketplace and learning centre, providing a forum for mutual understanding of the energy needs of end users and the ocean energy ‘systems-based’ solutions. Through simulation, this digital marketplace will draw data from existing wave and tidal energy projects, to mix and match end users with proposed ocean energy system integrations and potential providers.

The second stage is the construction of a physical marketplace where ‘seeing is understanding’. Using an integrated microgrid approach, a working, pilot-scale ocean energy system will be created as a world-first offshore energy marketplace. This interactive innovation hub will demonstrate the efficacy, economic and social value of integrated offshore energy solutions as a key complement to Australia’s net zero goals.

The ocean energy microgrid will include a combination of wind and wave energy converters, solar (onshore and/or offshore), storage and application technologies including green hydrogen production, desalination capability and EV charging. A database of ocean energy device capabilities for market-ready technology application will also enable potential end users to understand the strengths of an integrated system, identify and model their particular energy requirements, and be matched with integrated offshore energy options that best fit their future energy transition needs. Working with an associated project development partner, end users can then design, cost, procure and develop standalone or integrated energy solutions for commercial applications.

NERA Ocean Energy Program Manager Alex Ogg, who unveiled the feasibility study along with a concept video, says the lack of awareness about the potential of generating power from integrated tidal, offshore wind and wave energy must be addressed.

“Despite the fact that it has an almost limitless potential to produce clean energy more consistently and predictably than any other source, energy from our oceans has been too often overlooked,” he said. “What also sets ocean energy apart is its ability to be integrated with other renewables — from discrete blue economy applications today to multi-use offshore energy parks in our future — adding huge value, consistency and complementary energy to the renewable supply.

“We’re now seeking partners who share our vision to help us turn the vision into reality and help make ocean energy be a leader in the transition to a sustainable future for all.”

Top image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/lazyllama

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