Wave energy project gets grant

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 05:00 08/10/2011

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A Stewart Island wave energy project has received a $312,000 government grant.

The Tangaroa Energy/Langlee wave power project received the money to build a 20-kilowatt device off the east of Stewart Island.

Acting Energy Minister Hekia Parata announced the funding boost yesterday as part of the Marine Energy Deployment Fund.

Invercargill MP Eric Roy said it was good the firm was working to see whether wave energy was viable.

There were complications to making it work, including the fact a marine energy device needed to be at a depth of about 12 metres to stop barnacles and other growth, he said.

"It's not quite as simple as we all thought."

A decision on the future of the island's supply would have to be made, as power costs there had risen to 58c a unit, compared to about 14c on the mainland, he said.

Potential existed for a small hydroelectric system, plus wind, wave and tidal energy around Stewart Island.

"There's also a group of people saying `how much is a cable?'."

A power cable across Foveaux Strait, with a fibre-optic line included, would cost about $14million, he said.

"[A cable] may well be the most viable option [but] in order to make that decision, all the work needs to be done."

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