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Tests a success on US firm’s next generation wave system

OPT completes testing on upgraded marine energy machine and prepares for deployment

Tests on the PowerBuoy, which generates power from wave energy, have been a success

Tests have been successfully completed on a next generation wave energy system in the US. Ocean Power Technologies (OPT), a wave energy technology company in New Jersey, has completed extensive factory acceptance testing of the first of its next generation power take-off (“PTO”) units for the company’s utility-scale PowerBuoy, the PB150.

The PTO has now been shipped from OPT’s facility in Pennington, New Jersey to Oregon Iron Works, where it is in the process of being integrated into the spar of the buoy in preparation for deployment off the coast of Reedsport, Oregon.

During testing, the PTO was subjected to varying simulated wave conditions to measure overall functioning and reliability, and it performed as expected in each area studied.

The new direct drive system is a much larger version of that which was recently utilised in the company’s PowerBuoy deployed off Oahu, Hawaii, for two years in a project with the US Navy. It is expected to provide increased efficiency and reliability compared with the previous hydraulic-based PTO design used by OPT in earlier PowerBuoys.

Charles F. Dunleavy, chief executive officer of OPT, said: “We are excited to see our next generation power take-off successfully complete extensive survival and operational mode testing. We are now working to integrate it into the spar of the PB150 with the help of Oregon Iron Works’ professional team.

“We expect the PowerBuoy to be ready for deployment off the coast of Reedsport, Oregon late this summer and look forward to an ocean demonstration that can pave the way for additional units in the region – with the eventual goal of a wave power station serving thousands of local residents and businesses.”

Upon completion of integration, the spar will be transferred to Vigor Marine, a leading provider of shipbuilding, ship repair and other industrial services in Portland, Oregon, for the final buoy assembly and testing ahead of deployment.

The buoy will be launched using one of Vigor Marine’s floating drydocks, which will facilitate the handling and water launch of the PowerBuoy. Once in the water, the PowerBuoy will be towed from Portland to the Reedsport/Coos Bay area for interim staging prior to final deployment and installation.

The towing plan has been approved by the United States Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in Portland. The final stage will involve towing the PowerBuoy to the Reedsport ocean site, where it will be connected to the mooring system that will be deployed with the assistance of marine contractor Northwest Underwater Construction, as well as other local companies, including Knutston Towboat Company.