Title

Harnessing ocean waves for energy is a fast-developing area of renewable power technology. Corporations and governments around the world are investing in fixed as well as floating plants to convert wave motion into power, and Australia is part of this quiet revolution.

SOTO is working on a significant project with Wave Swell Energy (WSE), an Australian wave energy pioneer with a unique proprietary variant of oscillating water column (OWC) technology.

Initial Scope:

The Wave Swell Energy OWCs work with unidirectional flow of waves, avoiding the inefficiency and complexity of bidirectional OWCs, which require turbines to operate on receding (reverse) wave flow. This sophisticated engineering also lowers the operating cost of the turbine.

Off the east coast of King Island in Victoria, WSE is installing a 200kW wave-powered turbine generator. The project, currently in its execution phase, will eventually generate and feed electricity back to the electricity grid, and could also be used to power a desalination plant on the island.

WSE’s collaboration on this King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project is especially prestigious as the generator will be part of a world-first hybrid electricity grid, with solar and wind power generation included in the overall energy mix. The success of this project would demonstrate the commercial viability of WSE’s large-scale wave-power technology.

Understandably, the wave-powered generator will be operating in a stressful ocean environment, calling for regular maintenance while also ensuring the safety of the maintenance crews. SOTO will lend their expertise in this area with a review of initial safety designs.

Solution:

SOTO Engineers has been engaged by WSE to facilitate the manufacture, fabrication, and assembly of the turbine unit. This includes delivering the full extent of the engineering detail design, procurement and contract management (EPCM) associated with the manufacture & assembly of the prototype turbine. The turbine generator itself has been designed by Mechanical Solutions Inc (MSI), an American firm specialising in the design of rotating equipment, such as wave turbines.

SOTO has further offered its expertise in managing the tender and procurement as well as the Inspection Test Plan (ITP) and Quality Assurance (QA) for the manufacture of the turbine. The SOTO team has the proficiency to ensure that the equipment is manufactured to the exact requirements of the project.

SOTO has been requested to undertake a thorough engineering assessment of the initial safety designs. The SOTO team will make recommendations on any improvements in the design of the shut-off door mechanism for ocean water that is the central safety feature. These improvements will be suggested by SOTO with an eye on smoother construction and easier maintenance. SOTO will engineer and manufacture this key component of the system to withstand the tough environmental conditions and high loads it will encounter during operation.

Results:

The Project Manager, Tom Wilson, has acknowledged SOTO Engineers’ high standards and attention to detail, as well as the promptness with which the SOTO team has executed the work. At SOTO, we are proud to be involved closely with WSE on one of the most high-profile wave-power developments in Australia at this time.

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The Project Manager, Tom Wilson, has acknowledged SOTO Engineers’ high standards and attention to detail, as well as the promptness with which the SOTO team has executed the work.