The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and State-owned power utility Eskom have extended the submission deadline for the ocean-current energy technologies open-innovation challenge to July 15, as a higher-than-anticipated response to the challenge was received, said TIA GM for energy Dr Tsakane Mthombeni.
The parties, which initially set a July 3 deadline when launching the challenge two weeks ago, were seeking submission from inventors, small and large companies, researchers and entrepreneurs, on proven-concept, commercially viable, ocean-current energy-producing technologies.
Speaking to Engineering News Online on Thursday, he said that an information workshop, held in Pretoria this week, received an overwhelming response, with about 40 interested parties in attendance. The company expected between 20 and 25 potential technology developers.
This was the first of four workshops hosted to engage innovators and further clarify the requirements and aims of the challenge, as well as address the information requirements of the potential participants.
The next workshop would be held in Cape Town on June 19, followed by two more workshops – one in Port Elizabeth on June 22 and the final one in Durban on June 26.
Following the deadline, TIA aimed to spend about two months analysing the submissions and, while the agency had not set a limit on the number of applicants to be chosen to move forward into the first phase of the challenge, Mthombeni anticipated two or three participants would be selected.
He added that once the progress of the technologies and what further funding would be required was established, the agency would establish a budget and estimated project cost.
The companies or individuals were expected to demonstrate the proof of concept during the first phase. The second phase would see the selected groups scale the proof of concept up to commercialisation over the next two years.
TIA expected the submitted technologies to meet the agency’s aspiration of a 60% to 90% electrically efficient 1.5 kW to 50 kW unit based at a water depth of between 20 m and 2 000 m and within 1 km to 20 km of a shore grid connection. The unit was also expected to operate at a current speed of 1 m/s to 4 m/s.
The TIA commented in its innovation challenge proposal document that the total worldwide power in ocean currents has been estimated to be 5 000 GW, with power densities of about 15 kW/m2.
South Africa’s Agulhas current along the east and south coast, with a current of 75-million cubic metres a second has been deemed the strongest and most powerful in the country, and held the potential to produce 42 GW.