Hurricane Irene was no match for a power-generating buoy fielded by Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. off the coast of New Jersey. The company says its PowerBuoy successfully withstood the severe conditions experienced during the hurricane.
The PowerBuoy prototype is deployed under the US Navy’s Littoral Expeditionary Autonomous PowerBuoy (LEAP) program. It was in the direct path of Hurricane Irene, which hit the New Jersey coastline on Saturday, August 27, 2011. OPT says the power-generating device emerged from the two-day storm undamaged and fully operational, with all its systems having withstood wave heights of up to 15 m (nearly 50 ft).
If anything, the storm made the buoy produce more energy than its onboard systems could use. During the storm, the PowerBuoy continued to supply consistent power to its communications and radar payload, and dissipate the high amounts of surplus energy it produced. OPT says it was in nearly constant communication with the device throughout the storm. The PowerBuoy operated on a fully autonomous basis, implementing the requisite power management and system protection functions without the need for any human intervention.
The PowerBuoy continues to undergo sea trials approximately 20 miles off the coast of New Jersey under a US Navy program for coastal security and maritime surveillance. The LEAP PowerBuoy structure is significantly smaller and more compact than the standard utility PowerBuoy.