Zero-Emission Wave-Generated Energy and Desalinated Water are Happening in Australia

A truly awesome thing is happening in Australia, as the world's first wave-generating power grid station is generating not only power, but also desalinated water — and all with zero emissions to boot.

On February 18, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Minister for Industry and Science (Ian Macfarlane) officially switched on the Carnegie Perth Wave Energy Project's onshore power station, the first renewable energy source the country has ever utilized, according to a press release. It is said to create enough energy to power 200,000 homes while also generating desalinated water from the ocean. And the whole system operates without creating emissions.

CETO System

Dubbed the CETO system by its creators (Carnegie Wave Energy), this particular energy-generating device is different from other wave energy services — there's more than one? — because it operates under water, keeping it safe from storms while also leaving the oceanic views unimpeded. Essentially a series of interconnected, really big buoys tethered to pump units on the ocean floor, the motion of the ocean (thanks to passing waves) drives the hydro turbines, in turn generating electricity. The team at CWE has been working on the project for over ten years and plans are already underway for the CETO 6 model, a larger iteration that the company hopes will pave the way toward commercial, large-scale use.

Carnegie Wave Energy

“These pumps feed high pressure water onshore to the hydroelectric power station and desalination plant, supplying renewable energy and fresh water," explained ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht in a press release. Adding that "this progress is a clear example that given time, and with the right government support, emerging renewable energy technologies can progress along the innovation chain towards commercialization."

And it could be a huge boon for countries where clean drinking water is in short supply. Being able to generate clean drinking water out of the ocean without causing further damage to the environment? That would make something like wave energy not only an ecological win, but a societal one, too. After all, each year more than 840,000 people die from water-related diseases, many of those in Africa. Something a system of CETO models lining the coasts could potentially make a huge impact.