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Unsightly 3000-tonne hulk to remain

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The floating remains of an experimental wave energy generator won’t be removed from the waters off Carrickalinga until an insurance claim has been settled, recovery officials told a community meeting in Normanville last night.

The greenWAVE unit sank last month and its owners Oceanlinx – a renewable energy company which had received almost $5 million in federal grants – followed suit and went into administration and then receivership.

The unit remains visible offshore from Carrickalinga and the area has been declared a no-go zone by maritime officials, sparking concerns among residents.

The District Council of Yankalilla held a community meeting last night to brief local residents of the future of the unsightly metal and fibreglass structure.

Council staff told InDaily today that the Transport Department had agreed to help remove the greenWAVE unit, subject to the salvage claim.

“We do feel a sense of making sure we help get the unit salvaged so we’ll be working with the receiver and other government departments particularly DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and the EPA (Environment Protection Authority) so we get a good outcome,” the Transport Department’s Joe Rositano told the meeting.

“We also don’t want the community to be left with a massive structure like that in their beautiful bay.”

A spokesman for Oceanlinx’s receivers, Korda Mentha, said the wave unit would remain and then be salvaged once an insurance claim was settled.

“They’re going to put some life buoys out there, some signs on the beach and a light beacon as well so people know from a distance that it’s a no-go zone,” Korda Mentha’s Rahul Goyal said.

Over the past two years Oceanlinx had been developing a demonstration model of its wave energy generating technology which was to be based at Port MacDonnell in the south east.

It was a reinforced concrete structure which weighed approximately 3000 tonnes and sat under its own weight on the seafloor.

On top of the concrete structure was a turbine and a number of electrical components and sensors that would use the energy from ocean waves to develop electricity.

The plan was for the unit to sit 3km offshore and transfer the electricity through a sub-sea cable that would connect the unit to the electricity grid. Once operational, each unit could produce enough electricity to power 1000 homes.

However, as it was being towed to the site, its flotation bouys were damaged, it flipped over and had to be towed back towards shore.

The ‘greenWAVE’ unit, which left TechPort early on Saturday 1 March, was towed into shallower waters at Carrickalinga southeast of Adelaide after it began to lean backwards after 24 hours of towing without incident.

The company confirmed shortly after that serious damage had been incurred by the airbags which caused instability of the unit.

Goyal said the company had suffered financially the incident at sea delayed the final installation of the South Australian unit.

This caused delays in funding which was dependent on meeting installation deadlines.

Goyal said the six employees of the company would remain at work for the time being.

Oceanlinx started life as a renewable energy company, Energetech, funded by US investors and private European funds, before attracting a series of grants and funds from Australian Government agencies.

In 2009 it was named by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) as one of the Top Ten Renewable Energy Investment Opportunities in the World.

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