A prototype technology which uses wave power to generate electricity and desalinise water is in the advanced stages of completion on the WA coast. The Seapower Pacific unit to be deployed off Fremantle should begin operating later this year. Desalination of the seawater is achieved using a reverse-osmosis process, passing sea water through a membrane to remove the salt. The process is powered by wave motions, with excess energy available to drive electricity-generating turbines. The saline-free water can be discharged and de-pressurised for domestic or industrial use.

Seapower Pacific received an R&D Start grant from AusIndustry to develop the prototype - the R&D Start program is designed to provide grants and loans for technologically innovative projects that need help with initial development funding.

When commercialised the project will be the world’s first dual-purpose wave power plant and will hold enormous potential in the global marketplace. “Global electricity consumption is forecast to increase by 40% by 2010, and there is an increasing demand for much of this to be supplied by non-polluting energy sources,” said Pacific Hydro’s Rob Grant. “At the same time, demand for clean water supplies is becoming critical. “Commercialisation of Seapower Pacific’s technology also has the potential to create a significant new manufacturing centre in Perth where the joint venture is based.”