RCE Western Australia - 2021


Wave Hello to Ocean Renewable Energy 2021
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Wave Hello to Ocean Renewable Energy 2021
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Western Australia
Contributing organization(s) : 
University of Western Australia
Marine Energy Research Australia
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Meredith Spencer
Organizational Affiliation: 
Marine Energy Research Centre
Dr Wiebke Ebeling
Organizational Affiliation: 
Marine Energy Research Centre
Su-mita Hill
Organizational Affiliation: 
Inspiring Australia WA, Scitech
Elise van Gorp
Organizational Affiliation: 
Discovery Bay Tourism Precinct Ltd
Organizational Affiliation: 
City of Albany
Organizational Affiliation: 
Great Southern Science Council
Organizational Affiliation: 
Australian Ocean Energy Group
Format of project: 
activity, props, audiovisual, resource
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Additional resources: 
Wave Hello to Renewable Energy video trailer - https://youtu.be/1QceBqYboE0
Wave Energy and Coastal Impact Teacher Resource (in prep)
Word sleuth - advanced/junior
Geographical & Education Information
Albany, Western Australia
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Great Southern Marine Research Facility
35 Stirling Terrace
ALBANY, Western Australia, 6330
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
The south coast region of Western Australia extends over more than 8.6 million hectares, from Walpole in the west to beyond Cape Arid in the east and is ​renown for spectacular landscapes including mountain ranges, the rugged southern coastline and many offshore islands, inlets, estuaries, waterways and wetlands. These provide critical habitat for many unique plant and animal species, and 20% of the state's flora is found in the area. The primary business and service areas are Albany and Esperance, with many businesses established to service the needs of the timber, agricultural, mining and fishing industries. Tourism is also a significant industry in the region.
The region also boasts some of the best wave regimes for ocean renewable energy on the planet as they travel unimpeded across the Southern ocean. For this reason, it is the location of the Great Southern Marine Research Facility and UWA Marine Energy Research Australia, and a knowledge hub for ocean renewable energy.
As a result, the south coast region of Western Australia is a hotspot for:
1. innovative research into ocean renewable energy through Marine Energy Research Australia's headquarters in Albany.
2. exceptional potential for blue economy industries.
3. unique and diverse terrestrial and marine biodiversity (the latter internationally recognised as the ‘Great Southern Reef’) and
4. as a learning environment (also via The University of Western Australia campus and its new Children’s University Australasia node).

Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
The environmental, social, and economic consequences of global warming are becoming increasingly apparent. Human activities from pollution to overpopulation are driving up the earth’s temperature and fundamentally changing the world around us.
Transitioning to renewable energy is one of the key ways of reducing carbon emissions, and society is transitioning more and more each day. However, we must ensure there is a diverse mix of renewable sources to guarantee consistent and reliable energy for all. The next challenge and frontier in a decarbonised world is ocean renewable energy.
There is enormous potential for ocean renewable energy – the potential kinetic energy in waves is huge: wave energy could contribute 10% of Australia’s energy needs. Achieving this potential calls for innovative solutions to make ocean renewable energy cost-competitive at commercial scales.
We aim to communicate the immense and yet untapped potential of ocean renewable energy for Australia, especially for the WA Great Southern, where the quality of the wave energy resource is unmatched internationally. Being a more highly concentrated energy source than wind or solar, as well as more predictable and consistent, it is a proponent of great economic benefit, regional development, innovation and research/education. Integrating renewable energy technologies can provide clean, reliable and cost-effective solutions to meet our economic needs on a multitude of levels, for instance as an emerging export industry for clean hydrogen or the decarbonised energy supply to individual customers, such as offshore aquaculture.
January, 2021 to December, 2021
The activity enhances understanding of renewable energy and sparks interest in progressing further learning and involvement. It touches on all aspects of STEAMI: Science (climate change, ocean engineering, aquaculture), Technology (oceanographic instrumentation and real-time data), Engineering (offshore environments), Arts (3D printing), Mathematics (numerical modelling) and Innovation (step-changing research, ecotourism)
The activities are very deliberately interactive and impactful to increase community interest, discussion, and knowledge of ocean renewable energy technologies – and their perceived connection and relevance to the subject. Participants will feel intensely involved in the process of energy production from wave motion, as they get hands-on in creating waves, comparing Wave Energy Converter technologies and monitoring energy readings on the multimeter. Discussion of ideas, opinions and experiences is encouraged with opportunities for the community to connect with science professionals and their work. This and the additional activities, for example a sandy seabed tank with a suction caisson demonstrator as part of the geotechnical engineering challenge, provide practical understanding of concepts that may be difficult to appreciate through static displays or other formats.
The ultimate goal is for participants to leave the activity with:
• an understanding of ocean renewable energy, its applications and the diversity of technologies that support it
• appreciation of the significance of the WA Great Southern region in ocean renewable energy, ocean engineering and climate action
• knowledge of Albany as an ocean engineering research and innovation hub and
• excitement for the process of discovery and culture of innovation that needs diverse teams.
Our aim is not only to inform, but to inspire through opportunities to interact with and question science professionals in these fields. It is anticipated the activities will significantly increase understanding of renewable energy and in particular ocean renewable energy. The activities showcase innovative research including technologies involved in ocean renewable energy and by showing working WEC prototypes, difficult concepts are more easily understood. The activity highlights how integration of technologies can help sustainably power our communities locally and globally and the important role the Great Southern can play in achieving this, sparking curiosity and interest in the community.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
Water tanks are used to recreate ocean environments (harbour vegetation; waves and their physical characteristics) and they host props to demonstrate the effect of natural and human-made processes on our coastlines (e.g. wave-structure interaction and sediment transport, coastal reefs and vegetation). The water tanks also showcase various wave energy technologies, including novel, working Wave Energy Converter (WEC) models to enhance understanding of energy production (e.g. turning of turbines, flexion of hinges, induction) from wave motion. Participants also test innovative anchoring solutions for offshore structures.
The "Wave Energy and Coastal Impact Teacher Resource" (in prep) has been designed to introduce key ideas regarding renewable energy, technology innovation and sustainability. It includes overview information and interactive experimental design with video hyperlinks for in classroom learning. These illustrate the concepts of wave energy, discuss various wave energy harnessing technologies and investigate the potential changes to coastal shorelines that may follow deployment of wave energy devices. This is achieved by the Coastal impact experiment where the impact on coastlines of different wave regimes and the presence/absence of nearshore structures are tested either through direct engagement with the portable wave flume, or remotely through filmed examples.
Size of academic audience: 
1000 and ongoing
The activity has been run as classroom incursions including part of the Children's University for students of varying year groups (primary and secondary), and also at community open days attracting diverse audiences including families, small and older children, teens, students, football clubs, adults.
Following outreach with over 1000 adults and children since September 2020, we recognise that the ability to visualise the energy transfer greatly enhances participant understanding of the various technical concepts surrounding ocean renewable energy. This is a valuable tool in the science communication of the value proposition of ocean renewable energy – which is still immature, compared to solar and onshore wind.
The activity was evaluated at both classroom and open day formats with participants describing the experience as:
Illustrative, instructive, enriching, inspiring, hopeful, informative, educational, exciting, realistic, interactive, interesting, sustainable and fun.
Lessons learned: 
When the activity was run as an open day stall, visitors came, engaged and left as time and family pressures allowed. As such, the stall medium was not as conducive to paper feedback evaluations as a standalone activity in, for example, a classroom setting. Verbal feedback and engagement was, however, very encouraging; for example we received approaches from local schools to deliver the activity to Yrs 6-9 as a direct result from the engagement.
The interactive water tanks, props, marine buoy, activity sheets and video tools have all been immensely useful in engaging adults and children alike. They illustrate complex ideas and allowed real appreciation of the concept of renewable marine energy and how it can be employed.
Key messages: 
The activity significantly increases understanding of renewable energy and in particular ocean renewable energy. It showcases innovative research including technologies involved in ocean renewable energy and by showing working WEC prototypes, difficult concepts can be more easily understood. The activity and props highlight how integration of technologies can help sustainably power our communities locally and globally and the important role the Great Southern can play in achieving this, sparking curiosity and interest in the community.
We are very grateful to the Australian Government Inspiring Australia WA, Scitech for their support and seed funding by way of two small grants, which facilitated firstly the development of the portable wave flume and anchoring systems water tanks and specific props, and then the technical production of several working wave energy models and a short film to extend the reach of the project.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon flume_parklands.jpg (1.86 MB) Harnessing energy from waves W. Ebeling
Image icon Explainer.jpg (1.45 MB) Explainer Flyer Y. Jaddoo & W. Ebeling
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 
SDG 7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all 
SDG 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation 
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level