Wave energy technology in spotlight on WA’s south coast – ABC News


Western Australia’s south coast city of Albany could be a showroom for wave energy technology after the deployment of a monitoring buoy in King George Sound.

The University of WA Wave Energy Research Centre (WERC) deployed the buoy off Seal Island last week.

It was the second wave-data recording device installed by the centre off the coast, and the project leader hopes it can turn Albany into the international showroom for the emerging green technology.

Researchers said the new buoy would collect different swell conditions to the Torbay site as it sat in the more protected waters of the sound, potentially paving the way for a farm there.

World’s most reliable swell

Weibke Ebeling from the WERC said the Southern Ocean between Australia and Antarctica offered some of the world’s most consistent swell, making Albany ideal for developing renewable wave energy technology.

“Everyone has been focused on the stretch of coastline that faces Antarctica,” Dr Ebeling said.

A woman holding a wave recording buoy.
Weibke Ebeling holds a wave recording buoy similar to the one deployed in King George Sound recently.(ABC Great Southern: Hugo Timms)

Despite being only about 20 kilometres from the original buoy, WERC’s newest buoy is in significantly different ocean conditions.

Sheltered by the towering cliffs of Flinders Peninsula, the new buoy is expected to record waves much gentler than its counterpart, which has survived swells up to 15 metres.

Different conditions demand different technology, and Albany’s mix of vast open ocean and calmer bays meant both can be tested within a short distance.

“Some are suited to the high energy wave climate out at Torbay and some are more suited to the milder winter and wave climate at King George Sound,” Dr Ebeling said.

“We’re casting our net wider in talking to industry. This is very attractive — Albany is like a hotspot for wave energy internationally, which means we can attract a suite of different technologies from different industry developers.”

The quiet coastline of King George Sound off Albany
Albany’s coast, including King George Sound, is ideal for wave energy, according to researchers.(Supplied: Brad Harkup)

Renewed hope for wave farm

It has renewed hope of a wave farm in Albany following the failure of a proposal by Perth-based Carnegie Clean Energy, which collapsed in 2019 due to financial issues.

“Albany is perfect for that because then we can have these different locations around our coastline and different technologies that are suited to that location.”