Carnegie Clean Energy’s Albany wave farm win ‘the only outcome’ under tender process, MP says
New documents have sparked fresh concerns about what has been dubbed a “flawed” tender process for a troubled Albany wave energy project, with a Nationals MP saying the tender requirements could only have been met by the winner of the $16 million contract.
- Carnegie has an exclusive licence to operate in the area specified for the project
- Nationals MP Terry Redman says “pretty much everyone else” was excluded
- The WA Government says it “was open to proposals for any location” near Albany
Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan was forced to table details of Carnegie Clean Energy’s proposal for the project in Parliament this week after a dressing down from the Auditor-General last month for wrongly withholding information.
Carnegie’s proposal said it had the sole rights to use a section of seabed close to the Albany wind farm at Sand Patch, 11 kilometres west of Albany and overlooking the Great Southern Ocean.
The WA Government’s tender documents specified “installation of a wave energy converter in 2019 off the southern coast, in close proximity to the Albany wind farm”.
Alannah MacTiernan (second right) visited the site with Carnegie and others in September. (ABC News: Benjamin Gubana)
“This licence was renewed earlier in 2017 and is exclusive to Carnegie for the [Albany wave energy project],” Carnegie’s proposal said.
The company said its five-year exclusive licence prevented other wave energy operators from the stretch of seabed between West Cape Howe in the east and Sand Patch in the west.
“No other wave energy projects can obtain rights to this site during the term of Carnegie’s licence,” it said.
The proposal also said Carnegie was the only company which would be able to meet the deadlines set by the WA Government.
“Carnegie is the only wave company able to commence immediately in October 2017 on the project development and to deploy in such an energetic, offshore location in 2019,” it said.
“Carnegie’s work on the site extends back 10 years. It most recently shipped its wave measurement buoy to Albany in June 2017 ready for immediate deployment.”
The tender was first advertised on July 28, 2017 and Carnegie’s bid was declared the winner in early October that year.
Carnegie win ‘about the only outcome’: MP
Nationals MP Terry Redman, whose electorate neighbours Albany, said it would have been difficult for any other company to have won the project because of a “flawed” tender process.
“There’s exclusive rights over 19,500 hectares of ocean floor, they have exclusive rights to that for a wave energy project,” he said.
“If the Government then asks for [proposals] to have it within proximity to the Albany wind farm [and] the substation at the Albany wind farm, pretty much everyone else is excluded other than Carnegie.
“This is about the only outcome Government could have come up with, given no other party would have had rights to that ocean floor to do the project.”
Carnegie’s proposed Albany wave farm will be located at Sand Patch, east of Albany. (ABC News: Benjamin Gubana)
A spokesperson for Ms MacTiernan said the tender documents made it clear the WA Government “was open to proposals for any location in the vicinity of Albany, not just the area over which Carnegie held a licence”.
Carnegie has long held plans for a wave energy project off WA’s south coast, arguing it is one of the best sites to harness the power of the ocean.
It was first awarded the exclusive five-year licence to 30,000 hectares of ocean bed by Ms MacTiernan in 2008, when she was planning and infrastructure minister in the Carpenter government.
This gave the company unfettered access to explore sites for a wave farm.
Other sea floor licenses ‘prohibited’
This licence was renewed by the Barnett Government just before it was voted out of office in March 2017 and the company now has rights over 19,500 hectares.
The Albany wave farm proposal is based around Carnegie’s CETO 6 technology. (Supplied: Carnegie Clean Energy)
Planning Minister Rita Saffioti confirmed the exclusivity of Carnegie’s licence in response to a question in the WA Parliament last year.
“A sea floor licence to another wave energy project proponent is prohibited by the deed of contract of the existing licence,” she said.
Since winning the tender, Carnegie has hit financial trouble and missed its first milestone, failing to start procurement.
It must provide the WA Government with a financial plan by tomorrow to prove it can complete the project.