BioWAVETM is a point-absorber wave energy converter with integrated power take-off, O-DriveTM, and shore connection for grid integration. It is a bottom-mounted pitching device that spans the water column and absorbs energy both from heaving motion at the surface and pitching motion, from subsurface back-and-forth motion. The installed 250kW pilot device has three cylindrical buoyant ‘blades’ that can be proportionally filled with air and water to tune power capture to the wave environment. The blades can be disengaged from the power take-off unit and completely filled with water, to sink for Survival mode in harsh wave conditions.
Bass Strait, 26m, Port Fairy VIC Australia
The Environmental Impact Assessment was submitted to the Victorian State Department of Sustainability and Environment, for Consent for use and development of Crown land in December 2011. Consent was received in April 2012, for use of the site at Port Fairy until 1 July 2015. Review of this consent application included BPS’ Environmental Management Plan, EIA, Community Consultation plan and Project plans. In 2014, this Consent was extended until July 2017. In November 2012, BPS received the Planning Permit from Moyne Shire. This permit was extended in 2015, for works up to November 2017. In May 2013, BPS received a license for 5 years for the shore-connection cable corridor and the bioWAVE exclusion zone. This was given by the Victorian State Department of Environment and Primary Industries. The licenses and permits for the decommissioning phase have been extended to March 2021.
Entura, Hydro-Electric Corporation, was commissioned to undertake Environmental Impact studies and prepare an application for Consent for use and development of Crown land. In this body of work, they surveyed the existing environment, assessed the potential impacts of the Port Fairy Pilot Wave Energy Project and proposed mitigation and management actions, which were incorporated into BPS’ Environmental Management Plan.
The bioWAVE pilot was manufactured in Vietnam was loaded onto the Heavy Lift Vessel for transport to Australia on the 15th November 2015. Onshore electrical work was completed and tested with the subsea cable on 5th December 2015. The bioWAVE Pilot device was installed by Heavy Lift vessel on 14th December 2015. The shore connection cable was damaged in the process of installation. It was replaced on 21 December 2016. BPS has conducted multiple inspection operations since installation of the device. The bioWAVE was connected to grid and power-up in April 2017. Commissioning of onboard systems, via remote access, was conducted during April – May 2017. An onboard electrical fault subsequently damaged components within the O-Drive module. Funding for further repairs was not forthcoming, and the project was later halted. Currently, the project is in a decommissioning phase.
Key Environmental Issues
Baseline and impact studies identified species vulnerable to disturbance during the installation of the shore crossing cable. These prompted adaptive management strategies for this process, specifically in cooperation with coastal bird conservation efforts and minimisation of disturbance to Coastal Dune Scrub. There were no impacts on near-shore and shore flora and fauna identified for operation of the bioWAVE.
The offshore studies did not identify any species specifically impacted by the installation or operation of the bioWAVE. Monitoring activities have been adopted in order to contribute information of impact on cetaceans. Risk Mediation responses have been incorporated into control of the bioWAVE project to account for unlikely hazard to cetaceans.
At the closure of the bioWAVE project, benthic studies will be performed on the unit and impact on the bathymetry at the installation site will be assessed.
Other notes on environmental issues:
- Hooded plover and fairy tern breeding sites will be avoided for shore cable installation
- Cetacean monitoring program
- There were no observations of species, communities or habitats of particular
- ecological or conservation significance, however, because the bull kelp Durvillaea
- potatorum stands are more vulnerable it is recommended disturbance to this habitat is minimised where possible
- Southern Right Whale spends large periods in Winter close to shore along the Western Victorian coast.
Baseline Assessment: BioWave Port Fairy Pilot Wave Energy Project
|Receptor||Study Description||Design and Methods||Results||Status|
|Marine Mammals||Potential interference with marine mammals||Review of existing data for marine mammals||There should be little to no acoustic impact on cetacean behaviour, as the bioWAVE is expected to emit near-zero noise under water. There have been no recorded impacts with local buoys or moored vessels, suggesting that there is a low probability of collision with small or large mammals. There is no indication of altered migration or behaviour in cetaceans due to electromagnetic fields.||Completed|
|Invertebrates||Qualitative observations of benthic community near shore, for potential impact of bioWAVE project.||Inshore - Snorkelling survey with low swell, 5m underwater visibility.||Qualitative and photographic records of benthic communities. |
Durvillaea was identified as a vulnerable species in the shallow reef, and as such should be avoided when routing the shore crossing cable.
|Invertebrates||Qualitative observations of benthic community offshore, for potential impact of bioWAVE project.||Offshore – Diving survey with 1-2m swell and underwater visibility 3-6m.||Habitats recorded with underwater camera and qualitatively described from the footage. At the device installation site, the only biota seen was drifting crayweed and no epibenthic biota was found. There are no offshore species that should be significantly impacted by the bioWAVE project.||Completed|
|Ecosystem Processes, Human Dimensions, Legal & Policy||Identification of local ecological vegetation communities and threatened flora and fauna species.||Desk assessment using the Dept. of Sustainability and Environment Biodiversity Interactive Map (BIM) and the EPBC Act Protected Matters Search Tool. ||Species that could be present on site identified.||Completed|
|Birds, Ecosystem Processes, Marine Mammals||Identification of present flora and fauna species, to evaluate impacts of the bioWAVE project.||Site assessment using a meandering technique over 20m buffer around shore crossing cable route.||Records taken of features indicative of fauna habitats and any indirect evidence of occurrence. |
The cable crosses Coastal Dune Scrub Ecological Vegetation Community, which has a bioregional conservation status of ‘depleted’, giving a ‘medium’ conservation significance with its habitat hectare score. Two flora species were identified as rare but not specified as threatened. 3 species of coastal birds that require protection make use of Taylor’s Beach. This must be part of management of the bioWAVE project.
Post-Installation Monitoring: BioWave Port Fairy Pilot Wave Energy Project
|Stressor||Receptor||Study Description||Design and Methods||Results||Status|
|Habitat Change||Invertebrates||Diver Survey at the bioWAVE device site as part of project decommissioning.||A diver survey, similar to that performed at the baseline studies, is incorporated into decommissioning activities.||This will identify new species attracted to the area and the changed spread of species as a result of the installation. It will also provide information for changes to bathymetry as a result of the installation.||Planned|
|Marine Mammals||Monitoring for abnormal cetacean behaviour||Staff from BPS and SOM, the shore landowner, attended a workshop from the Blue Whale Study Inc. for identifying and interpreting cetacean behaviour. Records kept of sightings and behaviour.||No changes to cetacean behaviour identified.||Underway|
|Birds||Cooperation with, and reporting to, BirdLife Victoria, who conduct surveys and conservation activities for coastal birds during nesting season.||Isolation zone and protective measures, as recommended by BirdLife, adopted in any operations on Taylor’s beach in the case of coastal bird nests identified.||A Hooded Plover nest was identified on Taylor’s Beach during cable deployment. Conservation efforts were undertaken with instructions from BirdLife.||Completed|
|Human Dimensions, Fisheries||Community consultation to manage adverse consequences for local fishing.||BPS set up lines of communication with key stakeholders as part of the Community Consultation Plan. BPS has community meetings to allow address of any issues for Port Fairy residents and marine users.||Notices to Mariners have been issued for the exclusion zone and any upcoming works. Community members are able to contact BPS. No issues of impact on other industries noted to BPS yet.||Underway|