Work on a new 48MW tidal power station at Doctor’s Creek, Western Australia, could start within the next 12 months, according to Tidal Energy Australia (TEA). The scheme could be completed by mid-2002 and supporters of the project believe it could also prepare the way for similar projects in parts of the Kimberley region of Northern Australia.

TEA has selected Leighton Contractors to build the facility on the basis of a fixed cost and guaranteed completion contract. The power station is intended to supply all the electricity used by Broome, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing and the large lead and zinc mine at Pillara.

The tidal plant operation depends upon the creation of a high tide basin, which is topped up twice a day at high tide to maintain high level water storage. The tidal basin is about 15km in length, stretching close to the Derby town site. It will have a surface area of 12km2.

The selected design provides continuous power by a novel use of two storage basins, the first time this has been developed anywhere in the world. The design also allows for progressive increases in installed capacity. Additional turbines will be added at marginal cost to provide cheap power for the region.

TEA and its partners have invested over A$4M in site investigation and the engineering design of the project. According to Barry Haase, the member of parliament for Kalgoorlie, the project had suffered a short term cash flow problem. He said TEA had explored government funding options which allowed for full repayment of any public support. The ANZ Bank has been mentioned as a source of capital for the A$360M project.