The Planet

Australia Uses the Motion of the Ocean to Generate Zero-Emission Electricity and Desalinate Water Simultaneously

by Rafi Schwartz

March 2, 2015
image via youtube screen capture

It’s not the size of the buoy that counts. It’s the motion in the ocean. 

Actually, both are pretty important. At least, they are when it comes to Australia’s new CETO 5 system: “The first array of wave power generators to be connected to an electricity grid in Australia and worldwide" according to Australian Renewable Energy Agency CEO Ivor Frischknecht. As of February 18, that system has been channeling clean, efficient, zero-emission energy into Australia’s power grid, providing electricity to the country’s largest naval base.

CETO 5, named for the ancient Greek sea goddess, is part of the “Carnegie Perth Wave Energy Project,” a multimillion dollar initiative built to demonstrate the commercial viability of a large-scale wave power. The system is already turning heads both for the energy it produces, as well as the pollution it doesn’t. 

CETO 5 (the fifth iteration of the CETO technology) is a modular array of three, entirely-submerged 240 kW buoys and water pumps. As oceanic waves move the buoys, they in turn activate the pumps, pushing pressurized water through power turbines, while simultaneously feeding into a desalinization system. This short video created by Carnegie Wave Energy, the company behind the CETO system, shows how it works.

How does Carnegie's CETO technology harness wave energy? via youtube user Carnegie Wave

According to Carnegie Wave, CETO has a number of potential commercial advantages over other wave power generating systems (as attn asks: “there’s more than one?”): CETO’s modular design allows for customizable scalability, and its being entirely submerged renders the equipment less susceptible to damage from storms and air erosion. What’s more, explains Australian Energy Minister Ian Macfarlane, the ebb and flow of the ocean is a much more reliable source of power than comparable green-energy systems, such as wind and solar. 

Plans are already underway for a CETO 6, expected to generate four times as much power as the current system. As Carnegie Wave Energy CEO Michael Ottaviano told The West Australian: "The great thing about it is we know it works. The challenge from here on is really about scale and cost."

Here’s another look at the CETO 5 buoys: 

CETO 5 Single Unit via youtube user Carnegie Wave

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Australia Uses the Motion of the Ocean to Generate Zero-Emission Electricity and Desalinate Water Simultaneously