Wave power firm to trial NZ sites

Taranaki Daily News - - News - Mike Wat­son

A New Ply­mouth com­pany that built equip­ment to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity from wave en­ergy for off­shore cus­tomers now plans to trial sites in New Zealand, in­clud­ing off the Taranaki coast­line.

EHL Group (En­ergy Hy­draulics Lim­ited) suc­cess­fully de­vel­oped wave en­ergy tech­nol­ogy to com­pete in­ter­na­tion­ally.

The com­pany’s Azura wave en­ergy de­vice was cho­sen by the US Depart­ment of En­ergy for ocean tri­als in Hawaii, which led to the de­vice sup­ply­ing elec­tric­ity to the is­land’s grid in 2015.

The de­vice con­verted wave move­ment into hy­draulic pres­sure to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity us­ing the ki­netic wave en­ergy.

EHL chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Jan­nings said the com­pany now planned a three-stage de­vel­op­ment in­clud­ing a 250kW wave en­ergy de­vice, and four 500kW de­vices for New Zealand wa­ters, in­clud­ing Cape Eg­mont.

EHL’s project was grab­bing at­ten­tion be­cause wave en­ergy was a re­new­able source, and had dou­ble the re­li­a­bil­ity of wind en­ergy, Jan­nings said. ‘‘At a time when en­ergy tran­si­tions are mov­ing to­wards a low car­bon fu­ture, it is projects like this that will take us for­ward.’’

Jan­nings said EHL had de­signed, man­u­fac­tured and in­stalled the Azura wave en­ergy de­vice ‘‘power pod’’, which con­verted wave en­ergy into elec­tric­ity.

It of­fered the op­por­tu­nity for Taranaki know-how to be com­mer­cialised in­ter­na­tion­ally, how­ever more fund­ing was re­quired for the next de­vel­op­men­tal step, he said.

‘‘Un­til suc­cess­ful com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion is achieved com­pa­nies usu­ally in­vest all their avail­able cap­i­tal – but need more.’’

Sell­ing down eq­uity be­came counter-pro­duc­tive as loss of con­trol of the project can oc­cur and down­stream ben­e­fits can be lost, he said.

New Ply­mouth MP Jonathan Young said the Gov­ern­ment could meet the fund­ing gap and help main­tain a sig­nif­i­cant level of in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights for the ben­e­fit of New Zealand com­pa­nies and peo­ple.

Young had been in­volved in find­ing fund­ing for the wave en­ergy project dur­ing the last Na­tional Gov­ern­ment.

Cal­laghan In­no­va­tion had pre­vi­ously been a part­ner in the pro­to­type of the tech­nol­ogy but a step change was needed to de­velop more ad­vanced de­sign and tech­nol­ogy, he said.

‘‘Wave en­ergy has po­ten­tial to es­ca­late, as the world seeks to make re­new­able en­ergy more reli­able.

‘‘As it grows mo­men­tum around the world as a reli­able re­new­able, the cost will de­crease, mak­ing it more com­pet­i­tive with ex­ist­ing forms of elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion.’’

Young said elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion from wave en­ergy would con­trib­ute to New Zealand’s en­ergy mix.

A wave de­vice gen­er­at­ing 500kW could sup­ply up to 350 houses each with elec­tric­ity, he said.

The Azura de­vice could re­place ex­pen­sive diesel pow­ered gen­er­a­tors used by Pa­cific Is­land na­tions with more af­ford­able, re­new­able and reli­able en­ergy.

Young said North­west En­ergy In­no­va­tions, in the United States, were ma­jor part­ners and had ac­cess to US Depart­ment of En­ergy in­vest­ment.

‘‘On­go­ing New Zealand in­vest­ment would en­able Taranaki to con­tinue to have a sig­nif­i­cant part in the pro­gramme as in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty (IP) de­vel­op­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers, ei­ther in elec­tron­ics, hy­draulics or gen­eral en­gi­neer­ing,’’ he said. ‘‘If the Gov­ern­ment are com­mit­ted to tran­si­tion, this is an ob­vi­ous op­por­tu­nity to sup­port in­no­va­tive re­new­able elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion as well as sup­port­ing the Taranaki re­gion.’’

The Azura de­vice de­signed to cap­ture wave en­ergy to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity. The pro­to­type has been gen­er­at­ing power in Hawaii.

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