TIDE POWER: The Scotrenewables tidal power mega generator is all at sea and proving very effective.
TIDE POWER: The Scotrenewables tidal power mega generator is all at sea and proving very effective. Contributed

Tide turns for a sea power idea to light Noosa up

A FINDING Nemo-inspired bright idea may just provide a green energy solution anchored off the coast of Noosa Heads.

Tapping in to the eastern Australian current 100km directly off Laguna Bay using 20 tidal turbines attached to 20 barges has proved a winner for GovHack entrants Noosa Hydro.

The Sunshine Coast Regional Innovation Pipeline Team organised the weekend-long competition, which attracted Australia-wide innovators, was partnered by Noosa Council, Sunshine Coast Council, Peregian Digital Hub and the University of Sunshine Coast, and enabled data hacking brain-stormimg.

"The Noosa Hydro team proved that it was possible to power that region entirely from current ocean electricity mega generator technology,” a SCRIPT spokesman said.

The goal is to create "real solutions to real problems, making use of new open data from a range of Queensland and local government agencies”.

A Noosa Hydro spokesperson said their idea took the free power of ocean current and the proven capability of the Scotrenewables Tidal Power barge that had successfully completed one year of power generation off the Scottish coast.

Scotrenewables chief executive Andrew Scott said more power was generated in 12 months from this single turbine "than the entire wave and tidal energy sector has done in Scotland in the 12 years preceding”.

"We've generated over three gigawatt hours into the Scottish grid,” he said.

TheNoosa Hydro spokesman said GovHack had urged entrants to use ocean data and that led them to the offshore power plant.

"We've all seen the movie Nemo, where they catch the east Australian current for a free trip to Sydney - well, turns out that's actually a real thing,” the spokesman said.

"Messing with the BoM dataset, we found that the fastest and most concentrated point of this current comes right up to our coast at the choke point formed by Noosa headland.

"We wondered - can we use the Bureau of Meteorology dataset and Noosa Council resources to calculate a preliminary feasibility study?”

He said they crunched the data on Noosa electricity consumption figures for Noosa and locating comparative efficiency measurements for hydro generation.

"Basing our maths on hydrodynamic performance of marine hydrofoils, we computed that a 4000m span would be needed, placed 100km offshore from Noosa Heads, to supply Noosa's entire electricity needs,” the spokesman said.

"If a barge is constructed, which makes use of a pair of 100m-long underwater paddle-wheel-style generators with articulated air-foil-style blades, and if a string of barges are anchored to the seabed, a mere 20 barges in this string would be sufficient to meet this demand.

"Mechanically articulated blades allow for generation to stop instantly, so whale and dolphin detectors can be added to ensure no risk to sea life.”

Hydro Noosa is "exploring this idea and possible commercialisation”.

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