CETO Wave Energy aims to produce 50% of Mauritius' Power Requirements

Imagine buoys seven metres in diameter submerged three metres below the sea's surface. The wave motion against these buoys operates turbines which pump the water at very high pressure through a pipeline to a generatore on the shore.  Once ashore the pressurisied water powers the generator to produce electricity. That's how the CETO Wave Energy Technology system works. This revolutionary new technique has been developed by the Australian Carnegie Corporation.

CETO stands for Cylindrical Energy Transfer Oscillating unit, and is also the name of a sea creature from Greek mythology who personified the dangers of the ocean.  It is believed that the CETO wave power technology could provide 50% of the energy requirements of a medium sized island like Mauritius, which has a population of approximately 1.3 million people and an area of around 787 square miles. Professor Soodursun Jugessur, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Mauritius Council and the Mauritius Research Council has stated that "Preliminary experiments have shown that this system is entirely viable and appropriate for Mauritius".  Moreover, Electricité de France (EDF) has bought the rights to develop this technology in countries in the North of the equator.

Mauritius is located in a favorable area where waves of a height suitable for this type of project are formed throughout the year. Contrary to windmills or solar energy, the CETO wave energy system will enable electricity to be produced continuously at the Mauritius sites because waves occur 24 hours a day.  With one kilometer's length of waves, Mauritius could produce 25 megawatts. “We could profit from the same quantity of electricity if we collect the energy of the waves on a surface of one hectare”, proposes Professor Jugessur. The project will be tested on five sites which will each produce 40 megawatts, that is to say a total of 200 megawatts, which corresponds to an impressive 50 % of the electricity consumption of Mauritius. The sites will be located in the Western region, the vicinity of Albion, and South-west near Riambel. Based on the level of investment in this system, the cost of this operation is comparable with that of a wind power project. One megawatt will cost about 80 dollars to produce.

Desalinated Water

In addition to the production of electricity, the CETO Wave Energy Technology will produce desalinated drinking water thanks to a reverse osmosis system. Among its other assets, the project is “environmentally friendly”. The infrastructures placed under water will resist cyclones and other bad weather. Dinghies and other pleasure boats will be able to sail quietly above the submerged buoys. Tourism is thus not affected. The fishermen will should also find that it works out well for them. “The presence of the buoys and the pumps will attract fish. This constitutes a significant advantage for the fishermen”, professor Jugessur believes.

On 11th may 2009, the Australian wave energy developer Carnegie agreed to acquire 100% of the intellectual property and global development rights for the CETO wave energy technology.  The development of the sites is envisaged to occur within two years.

For professor Soodursun Jugessur, this project is happening in the a context of soaring oil prices throughout the world, whereas the Mauritian government aims to create an island powered by sustainable energy: "We have a goodchance because we have the sea, the sun, the wind...we are sitting on a gold mine" It is up to the country now to exploit these ignored resources!

A bit of history

The capture of wave energy to produce electricity isn't something that has only just started recently. In the sixties, a Mr Bott, the General Manager of the Central Electricity Board in England, had already formulated such a plan, although unfortunately the idea never got off the ground.  At that time the construction costs were much higher relative to the price of oil products. In the seventies, researchers at the University of Mauritius followed with other models of energy extraction. With the help of the Commonwealth Science Council, the researchers were able, during the course of one year, to measure the height of waves to gather useful data, but, there was no continuation of this study It is only recently that the wave power project resurfaced.

Based on an article by La Redactionn