by Donna Salmons
When we think of the ocean, it is often in the context of romantic travel and sand filled beaches. But the ocean, or more exactly the waves from the ocean, may soon be a source of power that a wave power device uses to create energy. At least that is the plan from Ocean Power Technologies [NASD:OPTT].
The Oregon Coast Project
OPTT is planning to deploy its PowerBuoy project in 2011. The 150KW device, known as the PB150, is slated to be launched off the coast of Reedsport, Oregon. In fact, the plan is to develop a total of 10 devices, for a total output of 1.5MW. If everything goes as planned, it will put OPTT as the first company to put a utility scale wave farm in US waters.
OPTT is also developing its PB150 device for use in Europe, where trials in Northern Scotland waters should start in the next few weeks. According to OPTT Chief Executive Officer Charles F. Dunleavy,
We are excited about the continued operation of our grid-connected buoy in Hawaii, and look forward to the completion of our first PB150 in Scotland, which we expect to be ready for ocean trials by the end of this month, and further progress with our autonomous PowerBuoy projects with the US Navy.
Construction on the power take off and control is currently on-going, and testing of that portion will initially be done on land the first half of 2011 before moving to the ocean trials.
Wave Power Device
The PowerBuoy system works by having a buoy tethered to the ocean floor. As the waves come in, the part of the buoy that floats works as a piston against the tethered portion, generating energy.
So far, a smaller version, the 40KW PB40, has seen a successful trial in Hawaii, where the technology will be used for an autonomous self-powered radar system for the US Navy.
While it would seem that wave power is a clean alternative to other forms of energy production, there are nonetheless certain challenges that the technology faces in becoming widely adopted. One of the most immediate problems is in the displacement of commercial and recreational fishermen from potential fishing grounds. This can impact the economy directly and hurt tourism.
Wave farms can also change the pattern of beach sand nourishment, further impact the marine environment, and even present itself as a hazard to established areas of safe navigation. Eventually they will no doubt incorporate wave farm information to help safely avoid such areas.
OPTT has secured $6.2 million in grant awards for the development of a big brother to the PB150, the PB500. That device, capable of generating 500KW of power, is in addition to the current trials scheduled for 2011 in Scotland and the U.S.
The current project involving the PB150 was made possible through signed agreements with 11 federal and state agencies.
The latest financials from OPTT show a 71% increase in the six months leading up to October 2010 when compared with the previous year. According to the company, the change was due to its US Navy contracts in place.
Overall the net loses were at 11.8 million, due to the development and impending deployment of the PB150 device.
Wave Power is a developing science, but one that has enormous future potential. It has been estimated that there is over 2TW of energy that can be collected from the Earth’s oceans. And with OPTT producing the first wave farm for the US, it might make sense to weigh this stock as having some potential, as long as the issues are dealt with in a long term manner. One thing seems certain – 2011 is the year that wave power for the US can become an emerging reality.
About the Author: This is a guest post from Donna Salmons at TestFreaks.com, a gadget review site. TestFreaks is the world’s largest review comparison site with over 10 million reviews and 30 sites world wide. We help 6 million consumers every month find better product information at our TestFreaks sites.