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Australia's first wave power plant ready to roll

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PORT KEMBLA, Australia - Australia's cities are drought-parched and its desert outback drenched by floods, but climate change has not yet killed the country's famed surf beaches, or their promise of clean energy.Australia's first commercial wave-generated power station will in weeks begin supplying homes south of Sydney with electricity and fresh drinking water, courtesy of the sea.

"The energy in waves is the densest of any natural sources of energy. It's pretty much always there and it doesn't go away like sun and wind do," said John Bell, the chief finance officer with station developer Energetech.

Lying anchored just 100 yards off a popular surf beach near Wollongong, a city of around 200,000 people just south of Sydney, the 485-ton plant will power 500 homes along the local grid.

Electricity is generated when waves wash into a funnel facing the ocean, driving air through a pipe and into a turbine capable of pumping 500 kilowatts of clean power each day into the local grid.

The $4.7 million floating plant, built to withstand a 1-in-100 year storm, can also desalinate 2,000 liters of drinking water each day for almost as many homes as it powers.

The station is also popular with local surfers, having created a nearby sandbar with a small surf break.

Bell said the plant was the prototype for a larger installation of 10 stations to be built on the wave-battered southern Australian coast near Portland, in Victoria.

"We'll have a queue to roll these things out, because the fact we can do both electrical energy and desalinated water is quite compelling," he said.

Interest in building similar plants has come from Hawaii, Spain, South Africa, Mexico, Chile and both U.S. coasts, with Energetech having just completed a round of venture capital raising, mainly in Europe.

"Our production units will be producing one million liters of water each day and we can produce at very low cost," Bell said.

The Portland plants would produce 10 megawatts, enough for around 15,000 homes.

The turbine at the heart of the station employs new technology that allows it to spin in the same direction, irrespective of wind direction in the tunnel.

"We believe its got the best chance of any of those natural sources to get close to, or we believe get below, the cost of fossil fuel," Bell said.




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This is awesome. I wish we had something like that here.


"Well, Toutousai...don't you think it's a pity for Tessaiga? All Inuyasha can do is wave about a sword with all his strength...it's the same whether it's a famous sword or a log."


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