Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Wave Power" off of the Oregon Coastline

Oregon wave power project gets green light to go forward
Wave power developers planning a project off the Oregon Coast now have the nation's only federal permit to develop a commercial wave power park.

Ocean Power Technologies Inc., based in Pennington, N.J., said Monday it will deploy the first buoy for testing sometime this year off Reedsport.

Charles Dunleavy, CEO of the publicly held company, said it hopes to have the country's first commercial wave power park online within two or three years of securing full financing.

The project will include 10 buoys anchored 2 1/2 miles off the coast and covering about 30 acres. They will produce 1.5 megawatts — enough to power about 1,000 homes. An undersea cable will carry the power to a site slated for the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, and connect to the grid at a substation in Gardiner.

Belinda Batten, director of the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Facility and a professor of mechanical energy at Oregon State University, said the Ocean Power facility is small by European standards but presents a big step forward in development of alternative energy from the ocean in the U.S.

The Oregon Coast has become a hotspot for wave power research and development. Waves are bigger on the West Coast than the East Coast by virtue of the prevailing westerly winds, and waves get bigger the farther they are from the equator, Batten said.

She noted that Atmocean Inc., in Santa Fe, N.M., plans to test three buoys this year off Coos Bay; the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Facility last weekend towed out to sea near Newport the nation's first publicly available wave power test facility, called Ocean Sentinel; a wave power generator from New Zealand is to be towed out to the test facility this week; and Oregon State is looking for a site to build a larger grid-connected test facility known as the Pacific Marine Energy Center, which would be patterned after the European Marine Energy Center in Scotland.


The cylindrical buoy harnesses the power of the ocean's waves through a float encircling it. The float goes up and down with the water while the buoy remains relatively stable. That motion is transferred to turning a generator, which produces electricity.

The final cost of the project is not determined, Dunleavy said. The company has a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, $420,000 from the Pacific Northwest Generating Cooperative, and a state business energy tax credit worth $900,000. [...]

"... The final cost of the project is not determined..." Gosh. Ya just hope it doesn't turn out to be another Solyndra, flushing tax dollars down the drain.

Here is a picture of one of the bouys on a dock in Scotland. They are HUGE:

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