Wave energy ocean trials begin

Ocean Power Technologies, Inc., a leading wave energy technology company, has announced the commencement of ocean trials of the first of its new generation utility-scale PowerBuoy device, the PB150. With a peak-rated power output of 150 kW – equivalent to the energy consumption of approximately 150 homes – the PB150 is the largest and most powerful wave power device designed by OPT to date.

This device was successfully deployed at sea on April 15, 2011 by a team including Scotland-based Global Maritime Scotland Ltd, Port Services (Invergordon) Ltd and OPT, with the support of the Cromarty Firth Port Authority. A second PB150 is now under construction in the US for an anticipated utility-scale project in Oregon, and the Company is involved in other planned projects in North America, Australia, Japan and Europe that would utilize the PB150 PowerBuoy.

OPT now has two PowerBuoys operating in separate oceans: in Hawaii, and this one in Scotland. With the construction of the second PB150 PowerBuoy, to be deployed in Reedsport, Oregon, the goal is to make wave power an economically-viable source of renewable energy continues.

The ocean trials are being conducted at a site approximately 33 nautical miles from Invergordon, off Scotland’s northeast coast, and are expected to last up to three months. A broad range of operations and functional tests are being performed, examining the response of the PowerBuoy’s structure and mooring system to the waves and the power produced by the on-board generator. A wave data buoy located near the site provides detailed information regarding incoming waves. Data collected during the trials is being transmitted from the PowerBuoy in real-time for analysis by OPT’s engineers in both the UK and the US.

The power produced to date in this commissioning phase has been as planned, and is consistent with the test protocols and OPT’s predictive models for the wave environment experienced. On-board equipment duplicates grid-connection conditions to ensure the buoy’s electrical systems are subject to full operational testing for utility applications. This power generation data further validates the Company’s experience with its grid-connected Hawaii PowerBuoy system. It demonstrates the PowerBuoy’s ability to produce the level of power expected to be generated in varying conditions, and to predict power accurately for different-sized PowerBuoys, at a range of sites.

The Company is seeking a customer for the commercial utilization of the buoy after the ocean trial phase is completed, including its possible deployment at various potential sites.

The PB150 draws on OPT’s in-ocean experience gained since 1997 when its first PowerBuoy was deployed. The development of the core PowerBuoy technology has been accomplished in large part as a result of support of the US Navy since 1996. Since that time, OPT’s systems have survived hurricane, tsunami and severe storm conditions in the Pacific and the Atlantic. The PB150 is 135 feet in length, and has a maximum diameter of 36 feet near the ocean surface. The PB150 steel structure was fabricated in Scotland, and the power take-off and control system were built and tested at OPT’s facilities in Warwick, UK and Pennington, New Jersey, USA. The final integration and testing of the complete PowerBuoy was conducted at Invergordon, Scotland.

OPT’s proprietary PowerBuoy® system is based on modular, ocean-going buoys that capture and convert predictable wave energy into clean electricity. The Company is widely recognized as a leading developer of on-grid and autonomous wave-energy generation systems, benefiting from 15 years of in-ocean experience. OPT is headquartered in Pennington, New Jersey with an office in Warwick, UK.