The Australian government has set a 23.5% target of renewable energy by the year 2020 as part of Australia's commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. CSIRO has recently produced an assessment of the ocean wave energy resource in Australia and identified the Southern Margin to be one of the most energetic areas worldwide suitable for the extraction of wave energy for electricity production. While most wave energy projects have been up to now based around single unit devices, recent projects and the long-term aim of this new industry includes deployment of multi-device wave farms, which introduces potential for such projects to provide additional benefits through coastal protection.
Port Fairy, located on the southern coast of Victoria, is home to a wave energy pilot project with BioPower Systems (BPS) having deployed their bioWAVE device at the end of 2015. In the recent years, Port Fairy has also been the subject of multiple high-level coastal processes studies in order to gain a better understanding of present and future coastal hazards.
This works aims to assess the potential for wave energy farms, comprising of a large number of wave energy converters (WEC) deployed in an array configuration, to provide coastal protection at the case study site of East Beach in Port Fairy. This assessment is performed using a modified version of an industry standard wave model (SWAN), which allows the incorporation of device-specific WEC characteristics to specify obstacle transmission. The SWAN model was calibrated against both nearshore (ADCP) and offshore (waverider buoys) wave records. The analysis investigated the influence of the number of WECs within the array on the reduction of the transmitted wave height in mild storm conditions, where WECs would be expected to operate.