The CETO Wave Energy Project has benefited from the vast store of oceanographic data, observations and analysis throughout the course of its development to date, and will continue to draw on the knowledge base as projects are developed worldwide. At this stage of project development, the utility of ocean observations and analysis has been restricted to site selection, validation and calibration studies. It is noted however that operational forecast products are expected to become increasingly relevant at the later stages of commercialisation. Good reviews relevant to the wider application of ocean observations and analysis to wave energy forecasting can be found in the papers of Moreira et al. (2002); Bruck and Pontes (2006) and Tolman et al. (2002) and Greenslade and Tolman (2010).
Specifically to the CETO project, in 2003 Carnegie commissioned a survey of near-shore wave energy resource availability from a local oceanographic company WNI, with geographical scope restricted to the SW coastal areas of Western Australia from Geraldton around to Esperance. The survey was based on an in-house data set comprising parameterized data from an implementation of NOAA Wave Watch III (NWW3). The data covered the period January-1997 to August-2003, at 3 hourly intervals with spatial resolution of 1° by 1.25°. As a deep-water model, this data was considered relevant only at depths greater than approximately 50 m which in turn restricted attention to a subset of only 8 grid points within the geographic scope. Fortunately, these remaining 8 points corresponded or overlapped with areas along the WA coast that Carnegie had flagged as being of interest. However, this does highlight the limitations of using such a coarse grid to generate data. A finer grid of say 0.25° by 0.25° would have been desirable to account for some of the protection provided headlands, for example Cape Naturaliste. Again it was fortunate in this case that most of the swell waves that impact the south west coast of Western Australia are from the SW direction and not from the S or SSW so the shadowing effects of the land were not as severe as they might have been in other locations.
More recently, Carnegie commissioned an independent report from ocean resource specialists RPS MetOcean, to provide an independent assessment of the near-shore wave energy resource availability at 17 potential development sites along the southern coastline of Australia. Wave data was sourced primarily from an implementation of NOAA Wave Watch III (NWW3) and compared to available measured data for seven sites across southern Australia for verification purposes and to examine localised effects on wave power and its availability. This study indicated that Australia has a potential near-shore wave energy resource of approximately 170,000 MW in water depths of 25 m (Fig. 27.4). This equates to approximately 4 times the total amount of installed power generation capacity nationally. The shallow water wave estimate represents the potentially available resource only and does not take into account the efficiency of extraction by a wave energy conversion device or accessibility of the wave resource. The issues inherent in the 2003 wave modelling exercise were recognised and addressed by this study. Specifically, points of interest were selected where, because of the bathymetry, the model was
able to deliver reliable deep-water results. Also points of interest were chosen only from gridded data points where there were no land shadowing effects. Thus, this later report represents a better estimate of the shallow water resource for Southern Australia. In summary, the result was an indicative ratio between the total available deep water and shallow water resource of the order of 3:1 (525:170 GW).
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