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Catching the waves: it’s time for Australia to embrace ocean renewable energy

Mark Hemer and colleagues write in The Conversation (18.10.16) about Australia possibly harnessing the power of the world’s largest ‘wave energy’ resource, suggesting ways that the nation can unlock the ocean’s energy potential.

‘Wind and solar may be currently leading the way in Australia’s renewable energy race, but there’s another contender lurking in the nation’s oceans.

‘Australia arguably possesses the world’s largest wave energy resource, around 1,800 terawatt hours. Most of this is concentrated in the southern half of the continent, between Geraldton and Brisbane. To put this in context, Australia used 248 terawatt hours of electricity in 2013-14.

‘Waves aren’t the only renewable power source in our oceans. The daily movements of the tides shift vast amounts of water around the Australian coast, and technology for conversion of tidal energy to electricity is more mature than any wave converters.

‘Ocean renewable energy also spans ocean thermal energy conversion, and energy captured from our large ocean currents (such as the East Australian Current). These represent less mature technologies with less opportunity in Australia.

‘Australia has abundant energy resources – both renewables and fossil fuels. So what will it take to get ocean energy out of the water, and into our homes?’

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