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Wave energy harvesters coming to Oregon coast

Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. says it expects to begin construction of its first commercial wave energy PowerBuoy system in North America, to be installed off the Oregon coast near Reedsport.

Construction of this first PowerBuoy system represents Phase One of an expected 10-PowerBuoy Reedsport wave power station, the first commercial-scale facility of its type in North America, which will generate approximately 1.5 MW of electricity. The nine additional PowerBuoys will be constructed and installed under Phase Two of the project.

Estimates are that construction of the first PowerBuoy PB150 wave energy device, rated at a capacity of 150 kW, will create or sustain approximately 30 jobs over the next nine months. PNGC Power, a regional generation and transmission public electric power cooperative, may purchase some of the electricity on behalf of its Northwest customers. PNGC has provided partial funding for Phase One of the Reedsport project.

As announced previously, OPT is in the advanced stages of completing its first PB150 in the UK for deployment in the Orkneys, Scotland mid next year. The technology development for this device will also be applied for projects in North America.

The PowerBuoy PB150, which is the result of more than 15 years of research and development, uses the rise and fall of waves to move the buoy up and down and drive an electric generator inside the buoy. The electricity is then conditioned and transmitted ashore as high-voltage power via an underwater cable. The Reedsport wave power station will be located approximately 2.5 miles off the coast and connect directly to the Bonneville Power Administration’s Gardiner Substation.

Most of the buoy will sit below the ocean’s surface, making the device nearly invisible from the shoreline. A 10-MW power station would occupy only approximately 30 acres (0.125 sq-km) of ocean space.

Sensors on the PowerBuoy continuously monitor the performance of the various subsystems and surrounding ocean environment. Data is transmitted to shore in real time. In the event of very large oncoming waves, the system automatically locks-up and ceases power production. When the wave heights return to normal, the system unlocks and recommences energy conversion and transmission of the electrical power ashore.

The OPT site contains further explanations as well as an animation showing the concept:
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