The first tidal energy facility in the Southern Hemisphere could be located down under. Australia’s Charles Darwin University signed a memorandum of understanding with Tenax Energy in the first step towards building a new facility that would provide renewable energy to the city of Darwin. The research center is expected to be built about 60 kilometers north of Darwin in Clarence Strait, and it will likely begin with a 2MW pilot plant.
The city of Darwin set a goal to achieve 20 percent renewable energy by the year 2020, and establishing a tidal energy generating station nearby would go a long way towards meeting that goal. The location in Clarence Strait was chosen for its depth, strong tidal movement, and also its location close to existing power infrastructure. Tenax has said that the Clarence Strait has the potential to provide a “significant percentage” of Darwin’s power supply.
For the next couple of years, Tenax will study a variety of different underwater turbines to understand which ones work best for the site. Then, it hopes to expand its operation. Researchers at Charles Darwin University will study the project in order to better understand tidal power’s potential in tropical waters. “The world’s biggest test site, the European Marine Energy Centre in Scotland, is already at capacity and we see significant opportunity in taking what we learn about the tropical environment here in Darwin to support growth in the sector in Asia,” said Tenax Energy Managing Director Alan Major in a statement. Tenax hopes to begin generating energy by 2015.