“It’s a small fraction… we figure out that if we could harness just 10 per cent of the wave energy along a 1,000km strip of the southern coast, then that would be enough to meet the Australian Government’s renewable energy targets of 20 per cent renewable energy before 2020.”
Dr Hemer says wave energy is not a quick fix and it is still a decade or two away from being a real force as an alternative energy.
“Wave energy really is a baby at the moment – there’s currently only about four megawatts of wave energy generating capacity installed globally,” he said.
“If you compare that to wind energy, there’s about 200,000 megawatts of installed capacity, or 50,000 times more, so wave energy is a long way behind on the cost learning curve.”
The research has been published in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.
Chief technology officer at wave energy company Oceanlinx, Tom Denniss, says the research validates the most suitable locations for commercialising wave energy.
“What has happened in the past with wave energy developers is that they’ve had to go down and put their own wave logging devices and leave them there for quite a period of time,” he said.
“Even when I say ‘quite a period of time’, that might be a year or so and that’s still not enough to really get the level of detail that’s desired.
“What this does, the latest report, is to provide a continuum rather than occasional points in the ocean here and there, so it’s incredibly useful.”
He says there’s still technological hurdles to overcome, including proving to investors the durability of equipment to last decades in the ocean.