Key Challenge

Australia’s Aquaculture sector is in a period of disruption, increasing cost pressures, diversification, and growth. Aquaculture operators are predominately reliant on diesel generation for marine activity in ocean-based operations, while shore-based facilities, such as processing, use increasingly volatile grid supplied electricity typically with diesel backup power.

The industry is facing increasing regulatory, stakeholder, and consumer pressures to respond to sustainability issues, such as reducing emissions and their carbon footprint. Securing sources of perpetual, reliable, affordable, secure and low risk clean energy is paramount for future prosperity in the face of these escalating pressures.

The Decarbonisation Thesis

Land-based microgrids, or distributed energy systems, are well known and proven small-scale electricity networks consisting of multiple sources of renewable energy generation, generally designed to support off-grid situations. While solar, wind and battery storage are proven energy generation sources, there is a new renewable energy source to evaluate.

It is theorised that the addition of renewable ocean (wave and/or tidal) energy combined with other renewable energy generation sources, including storage, will create a more reliable, affordable, sustainable and pragmatic source of energy supply than a typical solar/ battery storage solution.

If the theory is proven, inclusion of a wave or tidal energy generation source in a hybrid microgrid will reduce aquaculture’s reliance on battery storage and backup diesel, and provide a dependable, low-cost source of clean energy.

About Project “AquaGrid”

To achieve key goals of their 2020 – 2025 Strategic Plan, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) launched a co-investment program to “develop scalable alternative energy solutions for aquaculture” to strengthen the resilience of Australian aquaculture to a changing climate and help the sector decarbonise. Project “AquaGrid”, submitted by Climate KIC Australia in partnership with Australian Ocean Energy Group (AOEG), was selected by FRDC for project investment and are a “early mover project” within Seafood Industry Australia’s (SIA’s) overarching 3-year aquaculture decarbonisation program.

Based on the energy requirements of Southern Ocean Mariculture, AquaGrid’s aquaculture technical specialist, the project will look beyond the single source of solar energy to design a microgrid energy system with the addition of wave energy plus storage. Project AquaGrid intends to uphold the hypothesis and document ocean energy’s contribution to building a reliable energy network based on the best combination of renewable energy sources (‘the sum is greater than the parts’).

Project AquaGrid will:

  • Document the process and methodology to co-design an integrated ocean renewable energy microgrid system.
  • Develop a Non-technical Industry Guide for to assist other aquaculture operators to pursue development of similar systems. Includes Decision Tool screening for suitable use cases of the AquaGrid (alignment to value proposition) for aquaculture operators to self-assess suitability of microgrids for their sites.
  • Document an Implementation Requirements Guide from the process and decision methodology used to co-design an integrated ocean renewable energy microgrid system at the case study site. Includes a checklist of requirements and considerations to design and build the system.

Project AquaGrid does NOT include building the system. The project is a feasibility assessment only. The results will be directly shared with industry at Seafood Directions 2024 in Hobart, Tasmania and the International Conference on Ocean Energy in Melbourne, Victoria. Both conferences will be held in September 2024. In addition, the project’s guidance documentation will be announced and distributed via a national media campaign and other communication channels later in 2024.

Project Development Timeline

Current State of the Project

A multi-criteria framework is being used to evaluate a variety of system configuration scenarios, alongside key business and operational considerations. This assessment will be conducted, and a final system recommendation provided by July 2024.

The multi-criteria assessment framework includes the following elements:

For additional information about the project, please contact any of the Team members listed below