AUV Maps Seafloor for Tidal Energy Development

Pinpointing the best location for tidal energy turbines and providing a picture of seafloor conditions underneath fish pens are two research projects benefiting from the autonomous underwater technologies expertise at the Australian Maritime College.

The projects were funded by the University of Tasmania’s research enhancement scheme, designed to help early to mid-career academics increase their competitiveness for external research funding.

For the first project, Dr Alex Forrest deployed the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) UBC-Gavia to map the seafloor underneath the Batman Bridge in Launceston’s Tamar River and at Swan Island near Musselroe Bay, North-East Tasmania. These two sites have been identified as key areas for potential tidal energy recovery.

“Underwater turbines need to be aligned with the tidal flow to maximise the return of energy, so if you have a detailed picture of what the site looks like you can maximise the efficiency of your turbine,” Dr Forrest said.

The two deployments have been deemed successful with the data retrieved clearly showing the areas of highest potential tidal turbines within the surveyed areas. Dr Forrest plans to write a paper summarising these findings for publication in ocean engineering and renewable energies journals.

The second project led by Dr Vanessa Lucieer from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies focused on mapping the bathymetry of the seafloor around aquaculture facilities. Traditional surveying techniques are only capable of mapping the seafloor surrounding the fish pens, so when you look at the map there are holes where the fish pens are located.

Press release; Image: amc