Ocean Power Technologies has received Federal approval to begin work on the first commercial wave farm in the US. By tapping into the incredible power of the sea, over 1,000 homes in Oregon could receive clean, renewable energy from the new wave farm by the end of the year. OPT will utilize PowerBuoy technology, which they have been developing since 1994, to create enough energy to displace around 2,110 tons of C02 each year.
Ocean Power Technologies, based in Delaware with operations in New Jersey, recently received a 35-year license from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the first license issued to a wave farm in the US. The company has been developing the technology, which they call the PowerBuoy, since 1994 through testing in Hawaii and New Jersey, in addition to testing on other continents. OPT is nearing completion on their first commercial operation site, located off of the shore in Reedsport Oregon, which is expected to launch by the end of the year. “We are excited to see our next generation power take-off successfully complete extensive survival and operational mode testing,” says OPT CEO Charles F. Dunleavy.
The process for licensing has included extensive testing to determine the impact on the environment and has be a collaborative process with the public and governmental agencies. The license permits the deployment of up to 10 PowerBuoys creating 1.5-megawatts, enough power to over 1,000 homes. Initially, the company says that the project will provide 4,140-megawatt hours of energy a year, which will displace about 2,110 tons of C02. This is all accomplished via an underwater cable connecting the shore to the wave farm, which harnesses energy through a piston that moves with the motion of the waves, which drives a generator.
Wave farms have had to overcome numerous challenges to reach this point. Previous attempts by other manufacturers have sunk into the ocean and critics have expressed concern that waves fluctuate too wildly to be harnessed. The company states that “during testing, the PTO was subjected to varying simulated wave conditions to measure overall functioning and reliability, and it performed as expected in each area studied.”