The last few weeks have been flush with developments for pioneering marine energy developer Carnegie Wave Energy — the Australian company now set to diversify into microgrid systems.
First, Carnegie recently announced securing a $3.69 million debt financing agreement to support developments of its flagship Garden Island Microgrid Project, located in Western Australia.
News of that financial agreement came on October 21; only one month after Carnegie announced the same project was to receive $2.5 million of funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
The Garden Island Microgrid Project is slated to be the world’s first to integrate both wave and solar PV power generation systems alongside battery storage into a microgrid system. In addition to producing power, the microgrid will support an existing desalination plant.
Greg Allen, chief operating officer for Carnegie told Renewable Energy World of Carnegie’s intentions with the project:
“We felt it would be ideal to complete a working demonstration project of an island microgrid featuring wave and solar power, and energy storage — so we put together the Garden Island Microgrid Project.”
He said that the project is “about integrating multiple generation demand assets — wave power from [our CETO unit], solar PV, and battery storage — to create a microgrid; but that includes integration into the existing grid of the island.”
A key intention of the project is to show viability of microgrid solutions, Allen said.
“Part of this involves creating a system enabling bufferless transfer between the island microgrid and the main [national] grid, so that the island system can come on and off the grid without going black. This is a critical aspect to the solution,” he said.
On the power generation side, the microgrid will draw power from Carnegie’s CETO 6 wave energy generation technology and 2 MW solar PV capacity. For energy storage, a 2 MW/0.5 MWh battery storage system will be installed.
CETO 6 technology is a successor to CETO 5 – Carnegie’s first demonstration of a grid and freshwater connected
CETO array tested through the Perth Wave Energy Project (PWEP). Having been in operation for 12 months and achieving over 14,000 hours of cumulative operation — the array of three CETO 5 units was removed from the water in December 2015.
“The main difference between CETO 5 and 6 is in raw capacity,” Allen said. “We’ve moved from around 240 kW to 1 MW per unit. Power generation has also moved from onshore, to on-board the CETO unit. That’s a major improvement in terms of the flexibility of the technology.”
Multiple iterations up to and including CETO 6, Allen explained, “help with economies of scale, which works to get the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) down and gets the technology towards being cost-competitive with other technologies — and that’s the ultimate objective. We’re not there yet; we’re still in demonstration. Ultimately we benchmark against the likes of offshore wind.”
Although still in development, Allen said, “CETO 6 is reaching the end of its design phase, and we’re moving towards procurement. We’re aiming for commissioning around the end of 2017.”
Illustration of Garden Island Microgrid Project: (1) battery energy storage system, (2) desalination facility, (3) solar PV array, (4) Australian naval base, (5) CETO 6 Project. Image via Carnegie Wave Energy.
Construction of the microgrid on Garden Island is expected to start before the end of the year, and commissioning is planned for 2017.
Carnegie see the Garden Island project as accelerating the commercialization of CETO wave energy technology by demonstrating the technology as a reliable and cost-competitive renewable energy and water solution in an “island/offgrid-ready microgrid” setting.
“The concept has direct application for distributed generation systems in remote island environments — especially for places that already have high penetration of renewables,” Allen said.
Carnegie forecast the potential for the global microgrid market to reach around US$40 billion by 2020.
Reflecting Carnegie’s outlook, Allen said: “We see island microgrids as a progressive market with several drivers for this kind of solution. It’s a really strong outlook with a lot of opportunities. But importantly for CETO technology, it should provide a platform for helping us reach critical mass with the technology. With cost reductions and lowered LCOE associated with that, hopefully, we’ll be in a position to compete in traditional utilities market. That’s where true economies of scale exist.”
Gaining an early foothold in this emerging microgrid market, earlier this year, Carnegie embarked on development of a microgrid on the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius. (See Mauritius Takes Great Step Forward for Wave Power, Microgrid Design.)
Indicative of Carnegie’s aspirations for advancing the deployment of hybrid powered microgrid solutions, at the end of October Carnegie announced its acquisition of Energy Made Clean (EMC)– a leading Australian microgrid developer with expertise in integration of solar PV and battery storage.
“It was clear that an investment in Energy Made Clean made sense in the first instance to align our strategic interests going forward,” Allen said. “It was later the opportunity to take ownership came about. It puts us in a strong position moving forward.”
He added that Carnegie’s diversification into microgrids came from opportunities for CETO to contribute solutions to island markets.
“We looked at island markets and the challenge we see is that a lot of them are already at around 20 percent electricity generation from renewables,” he said. “Trying to integrate wave energy into this kind of grid requires battery storage and control systems.”
Reflecting on the acquisition, Carnegie Managing Director Michael Ottaviano, said: “Microgrids are increasingly a major part of the renewable energy market as they can deliver cost-competitive, clean power and energy security. It is the right time to seize this opportunity.”
The acquisition — and diversification — also prompted Carnegie Wave Energy to change its name; in an announcement the company stated that in the future it will operate as Carnegie Clean Energy.
“We have chosen the name Carnegie Clean Energy Limited to better reflect our expanded clean energy interests across wave, solar, battery and microgrids whilst retaining the strong brand awareness and credibility that Carnegie has built in the renewable market space,” Ottaviano said.