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Ocean-energy market innovation hub envisioned for Western Australia’s south-west

May 11, 2022

A visionary, WA-based project is being unveiled today as part of a bold step-change to accelerate the adoption of integrated, ocean energy.

Launched today 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 (National Energy Resources Australia) 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 focussed on scaling, commercialising and de-risking the ocean energy sector.

AOEG Cluster Manager Stephanie Thornton says currently 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 multi-purpose offshore energy parks that can optimise energy planning solutions as well as deliver low carbon solutions to marine-based industries and communities.”

“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 to 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 to 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 stand-alone or integrated energy solutions for commercial applications.

NERA’s 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. 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,” said Mr Ogg.

NERA CEO Miranda Taylor says the work done by the AOEG cluster to drive this technology-led and integrated energy project demonstrates the strengths of the cluster model in accelerating the commercialisation of technology and renewable energy solutions.

“NERA helped establish the AOEG in 2018 because the evidence from around the world clearly demonstrates that clusters provide the business model to achieve market visibility, connect technology innovators with end-users and drive more rapid innovation and business development.”

“The AOEG Cluster is facilitating the vital collaboration and innovation that is needed to ensure Australia achieves a net zero future and grows a strong offshore renewable sector, blue economy and diverse businesses,” said Ms Taylor.

Global energy consultancy Xodus Group is supporting the development of the feasibility study for AOEG’s Energy Marketplace concept. Matt Smith, Environment and Renewables Manager APAC said, “We are delighted to be pioneering new energy developments in Australia in collaboration with leading organisations like AOEG. The feasibility study will support the increasing knowledge base about Australia’s opportunity to improve the uptake of the marine estate to support Australia’s technology-led net zero ambitions.”