Australian marine energy developer Carnegie Wave Energy has embarked on an ambitious project in the Indian Ocean nation of Mauritius to establish new benchmarks in microgrid solutions tailored for high penetration renewable energy.
“The Mauritius project will clearly show how islands can achieve very high penetration of renewables by using a combination of wave energy, solar PV, wind energy, battery energy storage systems and smart microgrid control systems,” Project Manager Neil De Tisi told Renewable Energy World.
In meeting its goals, the project will showcase several innovative solutions split over the main island of Mauritius and the island of Rodrigues.
While the microgrid will serve to demonstrate how multiple sources of renewable energy may be effectively incorporated into an isolated grid, it will also provide a test bed for deployment of Carnegie’s latest generation of wave energy capture technology, CETO 6. The microgrid will also incorporate a new desalinization plant — being developed by Mak Water — to serve the neighboring island of Rodrigues.
The project’s scope includes provision of a renewable energy road map for Mauritius, outlining the technical and financial feasibility of high penetration renewable energy.
Installing CETO 6 Wave Energy Technology
Aiming to replicate successes of their flagship Garden Island project in Australia, the developers plan to outfit the microgrid with CETO 6 technology.
CETO 6 generating components are housed in a fully submerged buoy tethered to the seabed, with each unit rated to 1 MW. The technology will be installed in Blue Bay on the southeastern coast of Mauritius — a site selected on account of existing wave energy data indicating it to hold the strongest wave resources in the region.
Seeking to refine their understanding of this energy potential, however, Carnegie recently announced successful deployment of a wave-monitoring buoy that will collect fresh data over about six months. Jessica Kolbusz, analysis engineer at Carnegie responsible for the assessment, told Renewable Energy World that this data will “provide validation of our [existing] wave resource model,” but will also inform much about the final design and scope of the microgrid.
“Wave resource assessment is a necessary first step, but undertaking this concurrently to microgrid planning and the renewable energy road map is really beneficial, as it provides opportunity for designing a very effective, climate friendly solution from the ground up,” Kolbusz said.
Presently, it’s uncertain how many CETO 6 devices may be incorporated into the microgrid, but Carnegie is optimistic about the project’s potential.
“The project represents a really big step forward for Carnegie, and offers an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the CETO wave energy solution,” Kolbusz said.
In regards to what’s new with the latest iteration of CETO technology, Kolbusz explained: “The key development with CETO 6 is that it incorporates complex hydraulics and generator components directly into the offshore system. This removes the need for additional pipelines to shore and reduces hydraulic losses. In terms of infrastructure to shore, all that’s needed is a transmission cable.”
Supporting Carnegie as partner on the project is Australian microgrid specialist Energy Made Clean, which holds a portfolio of grid-connected, commercial-scale solar PV projects and microgrids.
That experience, Carnegie’s De Tisi believes, is important to the success of the project.
“Carnegie’s alliance with Energy Made Clean means the first stage of installing solar PV with battery storage and a smart control system can be completed and would allow for the integration of the wave energy converters at a later stage,” De Tisi said.
The early stages of the project are being supported with a grant from a partnership between the Australian and Mauritius Governments of AUS $800,000 (US $600,000).
Carnegie believes the project will set a highly valuable, but attainable, benchmark for other countries and regions that stand to benefit from microgrid solutions.
“There’s great potential for this kind of solution being introduced to other island nations, where there’s high demand for water and energy security,” Kolbusz said. “Combining multiple sources of renewable energy in a grid like this is really a well-rounded solution. This is especially true for Mauritius.”
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