Our June 20th SEN Presents explored a largely forgotten resource in Australia, tidal power. The tides of the Kimberley, together with HVDC transmission lines, could potentially supply all of Australia’s electricity needs.
Ivan Quail, SEN Committee member, presented the findings of his study on possibilities of harnessing tidal power from the Kimberley. His study was based on a 1962 report by John Lewis, now in his nineties and present as a special guest at this meeting, which explored in detail the prospects for harnessing tidal energy along the Kimberley coastline. However, this report and subsequent submissions to government on the topic have essentially been ignored so far. Ivan showed that there were bays and inlets all along the Kimberley coast where tidal differences could be up to 14 m. Thus there would be plenty of scope for installing tidal fences or barrages to effectively capture tidal energy. New HVDC transmission line technology could effectively transfer this electricity across the entire country. Costs of establishing tidal energy facilities would only involve initial capital costs and limited subsequent maintenance, making it only one third of the cost of nuclear energy, for example. However, detailed planning and costings are yet to be done. Nevertheless, this presentation served as a reminder that a potentially viable renewable energy resource, additional to solar, wind, wave and geothermal, is available in WA and awaiting detailed official consideration.
Also, after Ivan’s presentation, Eamonn Darcy of Sun Brilliance Group gave an update on the recently held 3rd International Workshop on NILM (Non-Intrusive Load Monitoring = electricity disaggregation = energy efficiency through appliance specific feedback). He explained the latest developments in software permitting monitoring of changes in the voltage and current going into a facility, without attaching meters to individual appliances, and deducing what appliances are used in the facility as well as their individual energy consumption. This simplifies fault detection and therefore permits timely fault remediation. This is a rapidly evolving field with good prospects for increasing energy use efficiency, in both industry and households.