The Moored MultiModal Multibody (M4) wave energy prototype project by the University of Western Australia (UWA), SMC Marine, and Everett Consulting, funded by local and national entities, will be deployed for the 2024-2025 summer period in King George Sound, Western Australia.

The project aims to convert wave energy into electricity to provide a constant electrical supply to a coastal microgrid for local customers, said Weld Australia, who visited the M4 prototype in early June 2024. 

Over six months, the device will generate electricity from the hinging motion. Data collected will model wave energy’s potential for continuous baseload energy and assess the device’s performance and survivability in various sea conditions, said Weld Australia. This data will be publicly available in real time to evaluate the feasibility of a full-scale device powering a local microgrid.

“We can use all the data to really interpret what could this do to decarbonise aquaculture, and what could it do to feed into a coastal microgrid,” said OI member Wiebke Ebeling from Marine Energy Research Australia (MERA).

The majority of the M4 wave project, including material supply, manufacture, transport, and electrical integration are sourced locally, with the only off-shore purchase being the power generator.

MERA, headquartered at the Albany Campus of the University of Western Australia (UWA) is leading the project and has been supported by six local businesses. 

The M4 wave energy device, featuring a triangular forward frame, a trailing arm, and a power generator on the connecting hinge, is built from structural steel beams and four steel floater buoys for buoyancy and ballast.

At MCB Construction, specialists in structural steel manufacturing are welding steel beams for the forward frame and trailing arm of the 22-meter-long, 38-ton device. In the same industrial area, the four floater buoys have been assembled and will be filled with sand for ballast, said Weld Australia.

Funded by the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre, the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, and UWA, the project will be deployed off Albany’s historic Whaling Station.

In January 2023, Researchers at MERA released two reports highlighting the ocean energy potential of Western Australia’s Albany region. The two reports outline the Great Southern region’s “internationally superior” offshore energy resource and the “value in waves” for Western Australia’s future economy.

UWA MERA post-graduate researcher Lucy Wang’s analysis for the WA Parliamentary Research Program highlights the benefits and cost-competitiveness of including wave energy in the renewables mix.