Wave farm concerns dismissed

Talitha WolfeAlbany Advertiser

Minister for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan has dismissed concerns about the commercial viability and integrity of a proposed Albany wave farm.

The WA Nationals have accused the State Government of wasting taxpayers’ money on the trial project, with Member for Warren-Blackwood Terry Redman making a motion in State Parliament last week to condemn the project.

Mr Redman claimed the project was ill-considered and would deliver negligible benefits for power-users while costing the State.

The Labor election promise will spend $15.75 million previously allocated to the Bunbury-Albany gas pipeline to build an 1MW pilot project to test the viability of wave energy near Sandpatch.

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Carnegie Clean Energy won the tender to build the common user infrastructure to run the trial for a year.

The motion came after the Albany Advertiser revealed Freedom of Information documents obtained by Mr Redman which stated the wave energy infrastructure would be unable to connect to the South West grid because of capacity issues.

Mr Redman said without further investment, the project would not produce enough energy to be commercially viable.

“One megawatt is really of a scale that can be used for a trial or demonstration, so the notion of having a commercial producer of wave energy come in and use that common use infrastructure to inject any sort of sizeable capacity into the grid is farcical without more government investment,” he said.

However, Ms MacTiernan hit back at the Nationals MP, saying the project was designed for research and development, not power generation.

“Now Terry Redman ... seems to think this is a power supply issue, that we are doing this primarily to feed into the grid,” Ms MacTiernan said.

“We’re not. It’s a technology development project. It will feed into the grid and we don’t have any doubt that the one megawatt that will be produced under this will ultimately go into the grid.

“We’re pretty confident that will happen. But that’s not what the project is about, the project is about driving new technology.

“At the end of the trial we will understand, everyone will understand much better how these technologies are working and then we will chart the next path forward.”

Treasurer Ben Wyatt said Albany was the ideal location for wave energy research and development but there was a capacity issue.

“The member quoted an internal email suggesting the substation at the wind farm was at capacity and that is correct,” he said. “But there are other network solutions.”

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