A swell chance to harness wave energy

18 April 2012, By James Madden: The Australian 

Ali Baghaei looks at the surf differently from most Australians. For the 55-year-old industrialist whose Sydney-based company is at the forefront of wave energy technology, a generous 2m swell prompts thoughts of business ahead of pleasure.

 

Having spent $80 million over the past 15 years on research and development to harness wave energy into electricity, Mr Baghaei's Oceanlinx is on the cusp of launching its core patented technology, the Oscillating Water Column, on the global market. But to make the final step to commercialisation the company is going to apply for funding through the federal government's $10 billion clean energy loan scheme.

 
 

Oceanlinx CEO & MD Ali Baghaei

Ali Baghaei, chief executive of wave energy company Oceanlinx, at Manly Beach in Sydney yesterday. Picture: Sam Mooy Source: The Australian

 

 

"The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is a huge step in the right direction for those involved in renewable technologies, as well as associated manufacturing and engineering industries," Mr Baghaei said.

"If this country is serious about supporting research and development, and seeing it through to commercialisation, then we need to assist companies who are seeking to be pioneers of industry."

Mr Baghaei said that in recent years Australia had let valuable intellectual property regarding renewable technologies slip through its fingers.

"The timing of financial support for renewable technology projects is critical. It's not an industry where you can sit on your hands and wait patiently for a green light," Mr Baghaei said.

"Australia was too slow off the mark when it came to financially supporting wind farms, and that intellectual property went overseas. Hopefully, we have now learned our lesson."

Mr Baghaei said of the $80m spent by Oceanlinx on its Oscillating Water Column technology, about 80 per cent of the funds had come from foreign investment.

"That just shows how much potential that small companies like ours can have on the global market, and it also shows how valuable renewable technologies are thought to be," he said.

Three years ago, the Labor government gave Oceanlinx a $2.9m federal grant, which enabled the company to develop a test platform for its wave energy technology at Port Kembla, south of Sydney.

Further support in the form of a loan through the CEFC would assist the company's aim to have its technology available to the market ahead of schedule.

"We are almost at the pinnacle of our achievement. We just need that final push to help us reach that final target," Mr Baghaei said.

"If this country is serious about supporting research and development, and seeing it through to commercialisation, then we need to assist companies who are seeking to be pioneers of industry."

Ali Baghaei, CEO of Oceanlinx

 

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