We’ve been following (and fascinated by) developments in wave power technology, from Portugal’s wave farm to Finavera’s AquaBuoy 2.0. And now we are thrilled to announce that San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric Co (PG&E) has entered into a long-term commercial wave energy power purchasing agreement (PPA) to use this innovative technology. PG&E is the first US utility company to commit to wave power and expects to start delivering wave-powered electricity into the grid by 2010!
The 15-year contract is with Vancouver-based Finavera Renewables, Inc, who will develop an AquaBuoy wave park about 2 1/2 miles off the coast of Northern California’s Humboldt County. The expected electricity generation will be a small part of California’s power needs, providing juice for under 2,000 homes, but the deal marks a milestone in the developing market.
While other promising techniques use below-surface motion and breaking waves, Finavera’s system uses offshore surface waves. The proposed wave park will contain eight AquaBuoys. The buoys will transfer the kinetic energy of the ocean into electricity by pumping water and turning a turbine which powers a generator. The electricity is then transferred to land through an underwater transmission cable.
While this is still an emerging technology, the PG&E commitment gives momentum to the potential of wave power as a viable source of renewable energy. As California utilities reach for 20% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2010, wave power offers a way to capture more energy in less space than other renewable energy technologies, like wind and solar.