The Carnegie Perth Wave Energy Project is rolling out its multimillion-dollar plans to prove that waves can generate real power for the electric grid on land. Submerged in the roiling seas off the coast of Perth in Western Australia, buoy-like CETO technologies will harness energy from incoming swells and convert it into electricity and desalinated water—no greenhouse gas emissions required.
CETO 5, the fifth iteration of the CETO technology named for the ancient Greek sea goddess, was designed to demonstrate the commercial viability of large-scale wave power. An array of three submerged 240-kilowatt buoys is tethered to the seabed via hydraulic water pumps. The system bobs up and down with the waves, pushing pressurized water through power turbines while simultaneously feeding a desalination water system.
The project will sell the resulting electric power and freshwater to the Australian Department of Defence to supply Australia’s largest naval base, HMAS Stirling, situated on Garden Island off the south coast of Perth. The CETO 5 unit was installed off Garden Island in late 2014 and was activated in February of this year. Unlike other wave energy devices, the CETO 5 lives entirely beneath the water’s surface, protecting the equipment from damage and immersing it into the constant ebb and flow of the ocean, making it potentially more reliable than wind and solar power, which come and go.
Plans are already underway for a CETO 6 system, which should generate four times the power of the CETO 5. 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.”