Harnessing the potential power of tidal energy to contribute to Australia’s energy needs is the focus of a three-year mapping project being supported by a $2.5 million investment by the Turnbull Government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The $6 million project led by the Australian Maritime College at the University of Tasmania, in partnership with CSIRO and University of Queensland will provide a better understanding of tidal energy and its potential to feed into Australia’s electricity infrastructure.

Tidal energy is created through tidal movement and the vertical fluctuations in sea level and the horizontal flow of the water.

This energy resource has the advantage of being potentially available for more than 18 hours a day, with only the ‘slack’ period between high and low tide when the water is not able to generate. Since the rise and fall of the tide is well known, this means that tidal energy is entirely predictable in terms of output for many years in advance, enabling other forms of generation and storage to be built around it.

As a reliable, low emissions form of energy, tidal generation technology could be integrated to enhance the country’s grid stability, or to provide support to off-grid industrial sites and remote communities.

A hydrodynamic tidal model will be developed as part of the project to map the scale and distribution of Australia’s tidal energy resources to the nearest 500 meters, with the results published in an online atlas.

The project will also encompass a feasibility assessment of potential sites as well as technical performance modelling of known tidal energy devices and environmental impact assessment.

With the project mapping a greater level of detail than previously seen, the project also aims to further boost investment in ocean energy technologies by addressing knowledge gaps to give investors more certainty in the technology.

The Coalition Government’s investment in clean energy technologies will help to deliver reliable and affordable energy as we move to a lower emissions future.