A two-stage development is in the pipeline for an Integrated Ocean Energy Marketplace in Western Australia, with the goal to accelerate the adoption of ocean energy as part of the nation’s ongoing transition to renewables, writes Greg King-Evans.

The project is being driven by Australian Ocean Energy Group (AOEG), an industry-led cluster formed in 2018 in conjunction with National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) to develop markets for ocean energy and facilitate collaboration throughout the wave and tidal energy industry.

The first stage of the project will feature a digital platform and knowledge base to model various integrated renewable energy systems and propose bespoke energy solutions for ’blue economy’ – sustainable use of ocean resources – market users.

The second stage will see the development of an Integrated Ocean Energy Marketplace (IOEM) near Albany, Western Australia, that will showcase an integrated ocean energy microgrid, allowing interested parties to interact with it and gather real-time information about ocean energy solutions.

The IOEM will be focused on scaling, commercialising and de-risking the ocean energy sector, showing end-user markets how ocean energy can meet their needs and hopefully leading to the increased adoption of wave and tidal energy.

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

“We need to 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 says.

“We’ve identified four main barriers to the adoption of ocean energy: awareness, accessibility, affordability and commercial project delivery. The IOEM project addresses these challenges head on and directly connects 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 ocean energy microgrid will include a combination of wind and wave energy converters; onshore and offshore solar; 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 enable potential end-users to identify and model their 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 standalone or integrated energy solutions for commercial applications.

NERA’s ocean energy program manager, Alex Ogg, says more work needs to be done to improve awareness about the potential of generating power from integrated tidal, offshore wind and wave energy.

“Despite the fact it has almost limitless potential to produce clean energy more consistently and predictably than any other source, energy from our oceans has too often been overlooked,” he says. “What sets ocean energy apart is its ability integrate with other renewables, adding huge value, consistency and complementary energy to the renewable supply.

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

NERA CEO Miranda Taylor says the cluster model helps drive the commercialisation of emerging renewable energy solutions.

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

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