Ocean energy company BioPower Systems (BPS) completed the deployment of its 250kW bioWAVE pilot demonstration unit off the coast near Port Fairy, Victoria in Australia. The A$21M project has been in development by BPS for three years, with A$11M of funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and A$5M of funding from the Victorian Government.

BPS CEO Dr Timothy Finnigan said the usually powerful swell at this site abated enough for the installation to be completed smoothly and successfully.

“Installation of the bioWAVE in the Southern Ocean marks the culmination of an intensive development phase, and the beginning of a testing and demonstration phase for bioWAVE. We will now turn our attention to commissioning the plant for operation, and we aim to be delivering electricity into the grid very soon," Finnigan said.

The bioWAVE was deployed by a crane-equipped ship, which transported the device to the site and lowered it into the water. Divers monitored the process from below to ensure accurate placement.

“This is a major achievement for Australia’s emerging wave power industry and represents another ARENA-supported breakthrough in renewable energy innovation," Acting ARENA CEO Ian Kay said. "BPS has overcome a range of logistical and technical challenges over the better part of a decade, taking BioWAVE through extensive research, design and testing phases. Developing new technologies takes considerable time and resources and government support is crucial for enabling this process. "

The device will be tested and monitored throughout its operation to produce an independent performance assessment that will be shared with the energy industry in line with ARENA’s knowledge sharing agenda.

BioWAVE is a 26m tall oscillating structure designed to sway back-and-forth beneath the ocean swell. The design was inspired by undersea plants and the entire device can lie flat on the seabed out of harm’s way during bad weather. When large wave events or storms occur, the bioWAVE is automatically triggered to cease operating, and the pivoting structure assumes a horizontal position against the seabed to avoid damage. This improves structure economics, leading to lower generation costs.