Profile: Michael Ottaviano

Profile: Michael Ottaviano

Here’s the man who believes Australia’s southern oceans are the best on the planet to drive a renewable energy revolution that could cut the nation’s greenhouse emissions and provide a reliable source of base-load electricity. But Carnegie CEO Michael Ottaviano says so far this innovative wave energy project has been denied Federal Government grants and there’s a danger that the Australian-owned and -developed technology will move overseas where more generous regimes encourage wave power development.

This article appeared in the middle of the 2010 Budget coverage in The Australian on 12 May 2010, which clearly shows that in spite of commitments to renewable energy and emissions reductions, the Australian Government is once again ignoring ideal opportunities for investment and endorsement. Will this go the way of other home-grown clean energy initiatives, like solar businesses Ausra and Suntech?  

By Sid Maher in The Australian:

MIKE Ottaviano believes Australia’s southern oceans are the best on the planet to drive a renewable energy revolution that could cut the nation’s greenhouse emissions and provide a reliable source of base- load electricity.

At Garden Island, off the West Australian coast, Mr Ottaviano’s Carnegie Wave Energy is developing a power plant that harnesses the eternal movement of the ocean to provide emissions-free electricity.

But Carnegie has so far been denied grants as part of the federal government’s renewable energy programs and the Australian-owned and -developed technology is in danger of being deployed overseas where European nations have more generous regimes to encourage wave power development.

Last November, Carnegie was beaten by Ocean Power Technologies to build a flagship wave energy plant. The market was surprised when the US company was preferred for a $66.5 million grant, over Carnegie Wave Energy, BioPower and Oceanlinx.

But Mr Ottaviano has been pressing ahead with a pilot plant for Carnegie’s technology at Garden Island, though he is now eyeing overseas opportunities.

He says the Carnegie technology is “radically different” to other wave-power technologies.

The wave plant is submerged and avoids the inevitable destructive effects of wave surges.

The underwater plant pumps water to an onshore facility that uses standard hydro-electric equipment to generate electricity.

The Garden Island plant will produce enough power for 3500 homes. But beyond the first plant, where the technology is ultimately proven will depend on government policy.

“We may be forced to deploy offshore,” Mr Ottaviano said.

He said the $652million renewable energy fund was a positive for the renewables industry and developing technologies such as wind and geothermal.

The beauty of wave power is the ocean’s constant motion means it is always able to generate electricity. This means it is able to be used for base load power generation. Other renewables, such as solar energy and wind power, are mostly unsuitable for base load generation. The Clean Energy Council has also called for tax concessions for renewable energy companies. Chief executive Matthew Warren said it wanted the commonwealth to create a geothermal, wave and tidal equivalent of the solar flagships program.

Under the $1.5 billion solar flagships program, the government has provided one-third of the capital cost of two large solar plants.

“If it works for large-scale solar, it’s logical you would experience the same in ocean wave and geothermal,” Mr Warren said.

Dr Michael Ottaviano is Carnegie’s Managing Director and joined the board of Carnegie Corporation Ltd on 1 September 2006. He has been employed by Carnegie Corporation Ltd since 9 January 2006 initially as the General Manager of Technology and Innovation.

He has previously worked in research and development and was a divisional manager for a private Australian engineering company. Prior to joining Carnegie, he was a Senior Manager specialising in Technology and Innovation consulting at a global accounting and advisory firm.

He has advised companies on new product development, intellectual property, innovation portfolio management and technology commercialisation across various industries and ranging from start-ups to ASX-listed companies with market capitalisations in excess of $1billion.

He completed his Doctorate in Business Administration in the field of Corporate Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Dr Ottaviano is also Managing Director of Seapower Pacific Pty Ltd.

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