The Blue Economy CRC is pleased to announce the launch of its latest project Seeding Marine Innovation with the M4 Wave Energy Demonstrator in Albany.

The project was launched on Friday 20th August by The Hon. Alannah MacTiernan MLC at the Wave Energy Research Centre in Albany, along with Professor Irene Penesis, BE CRC Research Director and Prof Christophe Gaudin, Director of the UWA Wave Energy Research Centre and Project Lead.

Sofar Ocean wave buoy provides real-time ocean condition data from the designated wave energy site near Seal Island King George Sound, Albany. Credit: Wave Energy Research Centre

The University of Western Australia’s Wave Energy Research Centre, with headquarters in Albany, is leading the $4.8 million marine innovation project on the Great Southern coast.

The project – nicknamed M4 and aimed at demonstrating the region’s wave energy potential to power the local aquaculture industry – is jointly supported by the Western Australian Government and the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre.

The name M4 is short for ‘Moored MultiModal Multibody’ which describes the wave attenuator technology developed by the Wave Energy Research Centre’s long-standing collaborators at the University of Manchester, UK.

By deploying a small prototype M4, studded with scientific instruments and sensors, in Albany’s outer harbour, King George Sound, for several months, the UWA research teams at the Albany and Perth campuses will learn how this technology performs in various ocean conditions and how it could supply clean energy to nearby aquaculture operations.

The Wave Energy Research Centre was established in early 2018 to grow a new knowledge hub in ocean renewable energy that would put Albany on the world map for research, industry engagement, community outreach and regional impact.

Director Professor Christophe Gaudin is excited that the new M4 project is the natural evolution of the Centre by recognising its successes and by bringing together a very powerful collaboration to advance wave energy technology and the potential of the Great Southern coast in a ‘Blue Economy’.

“We are looking forward to supporting the development of innovative wave technology, showcasing the region’s excellent wave resource that is unparalleled, and how it can play an important role in novel renewable energy microgrid solutions for sustainable aquaculture”, Professor Gaudin said.

“What this project really promises to do for Australia’s ocean renewable energy industry is to openly map the whole process including permitting, supply chains, risks, operational costs – while these aspects tend to be sensitive in commercial projects.”

“The Blue Economy CRC is excited to bring together a team drawn from industry, government and universities to advance the technological and commercial readiness of the M4 wave energy convertor,” said Dr John Whittington, Chief Executive Officer of the Blue Economy CRC.

“Offshore aquaculture presents one pathway to market for this technology, and through working with our aquaculture partners, look forward to the realisation of further integration capabilities.”

UWA Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Tim Colmer congratulated the research team and partners on this innovative project that explores a new clean energy source for an important growing economy for the State, aquaculture.

“The research and development conducted by the Wave Energy Research Centre will enable future opportunities for wealth generation at strategic sites, with benefits for our regional communities along our vast coast”.

Project partners include The University of Western Australia, WA Government Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, BMT, M4 WavePower Ltd, Huon Aquaculture, Albany Shellfish Hatchery, University of Tasmania, University of Queensland and Climate-KIC.

The UWA project will include a feasibility study with the industry-led Australian Ocean Energy Group to develop the world’s first Ocean Wave Energy Market Demonstration Site – or ‘Marketplace’ – in Albany that links customers with a suitable renewable energy microgrid solution.