Ocean Power’s Wave Energy Campaign Gains Ground In Europe


Ocean Power Technologies Inc. will use a grant of 2.2 million euros ($2.9 million) from the European Commission to continue developing a 1.39-megawatt wave energy project off the northern coast of Spain.

The grant is part of a $4.5 million euro award to a consortium of companies, including Ocean Power, undertaking a project called WavePort. The project seeks to develop and install Ocean Power’s PowerBuoy wave energy device.

In September 2008, Ocean Power designed, supplied and deployed the PowerBuoy in the coastal town of Santoña as part of the project’s first phase, which was jointly developed with leading Spanish utility Iberdrola S.A. (BMAD:IBR).
The device is capable of proprietary energy conversion and possesses a control system that allows wave-by-wave tuning to optimize electrical output.

The project now enters its second phase, as Ocean Power gets ready to install its underwater substation pod that will collect, network and transform power generated by the device.

A forthcoming third phase will cover the development of a 6-kilometer subsea cable which will deliver the power to the energy network.

The rest of the funding will go to other members of the project consortium namely Wave Energy Centre (Portugal), Fugro Oceanor (Norway), DeGima (Spain), the University of Exeter (Britain) and Intelligent Systems Research Institute (Britain). These members will work on other areas of the project such as steel fabrication, wave-monitoring equipment, wave resource prediction research, system monitoring and project management.

For instance, the University of Exeter will handle wave prediction while Fugro will provide wave monitoring equipment to collect and transmit wave data to the PowerBuoy.

Ocean Power’s work under the award still depends the official signing of the agreement by the members of the consortium, which is expected to be sealed within the next two months. The company also needs to seek additional funding to complete the project.

“This award by the European Commission is a springboard for [Ocean Power] to further develop our Spanish project and to demonstrate the commercial performance of the Power Buoy’s proprietary and innovative tuning system,” said Charles F. Dunleavy, Ocean Power’s chief executive.

PowerBuoy believers

Ocean Power has been aggressively pursuing the application of its wave energy device worldwide. Though a nascent technology, the PowerBuoy has already gained a number of supporters.

Under a $2.4 million contract that Ocean Power bagged last year, the United States Navy will use the PowerBuoy for its sensor-based communications systems that will provide the Navy with continuous power at sea for maritime surveillance.

Ocean Power will also deploy its PowerBuoy at the other end of the world. It agreed to allow Japanese companies Idemitsu Kosan, Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Company and Japan Wind Development Company to manufacture the PowerBuoy in the future.

Aside from the European Union grant, Ocean Power also gained 66.5 million Australian dollars ($60 million) to build a 19-MW utility-scale wave project off the coast of Victoria together with Leighton Contractors.

Ocean Power is also shooting for utility-scale projects in North America, and has partnered with Lockheed Martin to achieve that.

Its debut and North America’s first commercial wave energy project will be the 1.5-MW Reedsport wave energy station in Oregon. Clackamas-based Oregon Iron Works has asked Ocean Power to supply nearly 20 PowerBuoy systems to enable the project to generate 4,140 megawatt-hours annually.