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Wave power device gets green light

A New Zealand developed and designed wave power device could be close to operating commercially within 5 years, thanks to a government grant.

Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee announced today that Wellington-based company Power Projects Limited is to receive $760,000 from the Marine Energy Deployment Fund for a wave energy device it is developing with the CRI, Industrial Research Limited.

Power Projects says the funds will be used to deploy a 20 kW scale device and eventually a wave energy converter capable of 100 kW power output, which has been developed over the past 4 ½ years here in New Zealand.

“We’re delighted to receive this grant,” Power Projects director Dr John Huckerby said. ”It should enable Power Projects and Industrial Research to make substantial progress towards developing a commercial technology.

“A smaller experimental device has already survived deployments extending up to 35 days and weathered significant storm conditions. The grant will enable us to make longer-term deployments, which are necessary to demonstrate survivability and continuity of operation. It will accelerate the design and development of our 100 kW device and our programme towards commercialisation”.

“It also means that further development work will take place with New Zealand-based contractors. It will help to develop a cadre of experts here with expertise not only in marine energy design and development, but also capability in deployment, operations and maintenance. It could therefore help create a whole new sunrise industry for the country”.

John Huckerby said work on the project was already underway. The experimental device had been extensively tested off Taylor’s Mistake beach near Christchurch, and in Evans Bay, Wellington.

Multiple deployments of the bigger 20 kW version will take place over the next 1 - 2 years, and the even larger 100 kW peak output device over the following year. It is envisaged that the 100 kW version will be close to final size, and an array of these modular generators will form a wave farm in the sea, much like an aquaculture farm might look.

Each device in the array would be capable of powering twenty or more homes. A fully commercial array might involve many dozens or even hundreds of devices, which will generally be invisible from the shore.

Marine Energy Powering Ahead

The nascent marine energy industry is powering ahead in New Zealand,
with 26 separate projects on the drawing board, a conference in
Wellington today has heard.

“Twenty of these projects involve development or deployment of actual
devices,” says Dr John Huckerby, Executive Director of the marine energy
industry association, AWATEA.

“Crest Energy is in the midst of resource consent hearings for a tidal
power development in the Kaipara Harbour for example, and plans are
being developed for a New Zealand marine energy testing centre.”
“And New Zealand is starting to play an increasingly important role
internationally too. We have the Chairmanship of the International Energy
Agency’s Ocean Energy Systems Group for two years from 1 January
2009. We are also proposing important international standards in wave
and tidal energy resource characterization and assessment.”
Dr Huckerby said that while these developments were positive, New
Zealand had to continue to work hard if it wanted to be part of the new
industry.

“In the last 12 months other countries have pushed ahead strongly. The
first grid-connected tidal demonstrator has been deployed in Northern
Ireland, and the first grid-connected wave energy device array has been
set up in Portugal. A number of other international projects were also
announced, and generous grants, such as Scotland’s 10 million British
pound ‘Saltire Prize’ for new marine energy devices.”
“In that regard, we welcome the strong support the new Government is
giving.”

The AWATEA conference today heard from the Minister of Energy and
Resources, Hon. Gerry Brownlee, who announced the second grant from
the Government’s Marine Energy Deployment Fund.
A wave energy converter being developed by Power Projects Ltd and
Industrial Research Ltd has been awarded $760,000 to help commercialise
their device.

A total of $8 million over four years is available from the Fund for precommercial
projects. Crest Energy received the first grant last year.

The Government has also announced the timetable for Round Three of the
Fund. Applications will open on 31 July and close on 23 November.

Dr Huckerby said that Government support for marine energy was also
being extended in other less visible, but equally important ways.

“The Government, together with two State-owned electricity generators,
is a sponsor of New Zealand’s participation in two important for
international for on ocean energy. This sponsorship enables New Zealand
to play its full part in the development of marine energy internationally,
including the development of standards for marine energy converters,
which will benefit New Zealand-based device developers.”

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