Construction of a wave power unit inspired by underwater plants has been completed and is set to be installed off the coast of Port Fairy, Victoria later this year.

The $21 million project by BioPower Systems will provide 250kW to the National Electricity Market, and has been supported by $11 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency – the second wave energy project to be funded by ARENA.

“The bioWAVE unit is a 26-metre-high steel structure that sways back and forth, mostly below the surface of the ocean,” ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said. “The design was inspired by undersea plants and the entire device can lie flat on the seabed out of harm’s way during bad weather.”

“The oscillating motion activates hydraulic cylinders to spin a generator, with the power transported to the shore via a subsea cable.

“The site near Port Fairy is in the final stages of preparation for the arrival of the completed unit, with the onshore electrical equipment in place and divers working on subsea power and data cabling.”

BioPower has been working on the prototype since 2006, and is on track for installation in November 2015. A 12-month testing period will then inform the design of a larger one megawatt commercial unit.