Australia may have the honor of building the first tidal energy facility in the Southern Hemisphere. And the first step towards that alternative energy facility was taken by Charles Darwin University. CDU recently entered a memorandum of understanding with Tenax Energy to build a research center in Clarence Strait, which is about 60 kilometers north of the city of Darwin. The center is expected to host a pilot tidal energy plant that can generate 2 MW of energy.
Darwin intends to derive 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources before 2020 ends. One of the ways it could meet that goal is to build a nearby tidal energy generating station.
Tenax Energy selected the Clarence Strait to host the tidal energy plant because of its depth, strong tidal movement, and its proximity to existing power infrastructure. According to Tenax, the Clarence Strait can potentially supply a large percentage of the electrical power that Darwin needs.
Over the next few years, Tenax plans to test a number of underwater turbines in the Clarence Strait. Once it determines which designs will work the best in the tropical waters near Darwin, the company hopes it can begin generating energy by 2015. It also plans to expand the pilot tidal energy plant in the future.
Tenax Energy Managing Director Alan Major brought up the example of the European Marine Energy Centre in Scotland. The EMEC project is the biggest tidal energy test site in the world and already operating at capacity. Inspired by the EMEC, Tenax is looking for similar potential in the tropical environment of Darwin which will help support the growth of the tidal energy sector in Asia.
For its part, Charles Darwin University wishes to gain a better understanding of the potential of tidal energy in tropical waters. It will send researchers to study the Tenax project.
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