Griffin link to wave energy
WA Business News 4 July 2009 by Mark Pownall
COULD a sea of electricity generators appear on the distant horizon off Yanchep in the next few years?
Perth-bred scientist and entrepreneur George Taylor certainly hopes so, having a struck a deal with Griffin Energy to develop a wave power station capable of generating up to 100 megawatts of electricity.
A graduate of Perth Modern School (1947), Dr Taylor studied electrical engineering at the University of Western Australia and worked at the predecessor of Telstra before heading off to make his fortune in the US.
He did this as a pioneer in the world of liquid crystal displays, becoming a digital watch manufacturer.
About 15 years ago he co-founded Ocean Power Technologies, a New Jersey-based business that has developed commercial prototype wave power generating buoys capable of producing up to 0.5MW each.
Dr Taylor claims the internal electronic systems that help the buoy compensate for changes in wave height and frequency are at the heart of the efficiency of OPT’s device.
For this work he was recently awarded Renewable Energy Navigator Award from the Foundation for Ocean Renewables.
Last year, Griffin and OPT subsidiary OPT (Australasia) created a joint venture to consider a 10MW station scalable up to 100MW.
The WA connections don’t end there. OPT is linked to Azure Capital via founders Mark Barnaba and John Poynton, who have previously raised money for it from Australian investors.
In 2000, Woodside Petroleum spent $US5.6 million investing in OPT and still holds a minority stake in the Australian subsidiary, via a special vehicle called Metasource, and an option to buy 500,000 of carbon emission credits.
“In WA we have already done some work looking very carefully at Yanchep as a possible site to build a wave power station to connect into the Perth grid,” Dr Taylor said.
“The conditions off the west coast are excellent.
“You get more hours in a year than almost any other sites we have looked at in the world.”