We used BOM and Noosa Council datasets to perform a rough feasibility study for generating Noosa Electricity needs using the East Australian Current and modern hydro barges.
This years govhack carries 2 different challenges urging us to use ocean data, which got us thinking
We've all seen the movie Nemo, where they catch the East Australian Current for a free trip to Sydney.
Well - turns out that's actually a real thing.
Messing with the BOM dataset, we found that the fastest and most concentrated point of this current comes right up to our coast at the chokepoint formed by Noosa headland.
The worlds first ocean electricity megagenerator has just completed its first year of operations. 24 hours a day it generates continuous emissions free electricity. It manages a whopping 3 gigwatt hours annually from one single barge.
We wondered - can we use the Bureau of Meteorology dataset and Noosa Council resources to calculate a preliminary feasibility study?
Where is the ideal point to moor a barge to best capture this free energy?
What's the scale of a turbine that would be needed to best capture this energy, given the flow rates indicated from this data?
And How many barges would be needed to supply the entirety of Noosa's energy needs?
So we spent Friday and Saturday perusing the available data, searching out the electricity consumption figures for Noosa, and locating comparative efficiency measurements for hydro generation.
Finding the ocean dataset and decoding the nc format it's delivered in turned out to be somewhat problematic, as was the license restrictions for the underlying master measurements, which come in at more than 7 terabytes of compressed readings going back over 20 years, but we managed to find a pre-computed visualisation with location and current-scale readings which is very suitable. This is a hackthon after all: we don't have time to grab the whole set and run a multi-decade analysis in just one weekend; but the data IS there so if our idea moves to a full feasibility study, everything needed to do this more accurately is readily available.
We spent Sunday buried in Microsoft Excel putting the maths together, and here's what we worked out:
Basing our math on hydrodynamic performance of marine hydrofoils, we computed that a 4000 meter span would be needed, placed 2 kilometers offshore from Noosa Heads, to supply Noosa's entire electricity needs.
Obviously, 4000 meters is too long to be practical, however, If a barge is constructed which makes use of a pair of 100-meter-long underwater paddlewheel style generators with articulated airfoil style blades, and if a string of barges are anchored to the seabed, a mere 20 barges in this string would be sufficient to meet this demand. Mechanically Articulated blades allow for generation to stop instantly, so whale and dolphin detectors can be added to ensure no risk to sea life.
We discovered that the BOM dataset indicates that it is feasible for a Noosa-based green-energy business to manufacture and operate an offshore hydroelectic facility to farm the oceans power to meet all of Noosas energy needs.
I hope you like our work! If we're lucky enough to win a prize this weekend, we plan to use the money exploring this idea and possible commercialisation further.
Evidence of Work
Description of Use: Site-Selection and equipment sizing computations
Check back here once the first checkpoint passes to see the challenges this team has entered.