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OPT awards four wave energy project contracts

Ocean Power Technologies Inc. is awarding four contracts to Oregon companies in connection with the manufacture of its PB150 PowerBuoy wave energy device and its deployment off the coast of Reedsport, Ore., OPT announced.

The new contracts, with the previously awarded contract to Oregon Iron Works for fabrication of the buoy’s steel structure, take the total invested by OPT in the local economy to more than $6 million, the company says.

After the PowerBuoy is deployed and tested off the coast of Reedsport, which is expected later this year, OPT plans to construct a wave energy farm off the Oregon coast, consisting of up to nine additional PowerBuoys and grid connection infrastructure, subject to receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals and additional funding, OPT said. This wave energy array will be developed by Reedsport OPT Wave Park LLC.

The four companies receiving contract awards in this most recent round of work are:

In related news, OPT has begun ocean trials of the first PB150 unit at a site about 33 nautical miles from Invergordon, off Scotland’s northeast coast. This 150-kW device was successfully deployed at sea on April 15, 2011.

FERC drops plan to deny Mississippi hydrokinetic permits

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has dropped plans to refuse to issue additional preliminary permits for hydrokinetic projects on the lower Mississippi River between Cairo, Ill., and the Gulf of Mexico.

Director Jeff Wright of FERC’s Office of Energy Projects announced April 1 that FERC was proposing to deny additional lower Mississippi hydrokinetic permits. The proposal was in a show cause letter to Free Flow Power Corp. and Northland Power Mississippi River LLC. Between them, the two developers hold, or have applied for, preliminary permits for 141 project sites covering all but a few miles of the 850-mile reach of the river.

FERC had said it did not think competition would be promoted by allowing two applicants to tie up such a large number of permits and that it appeared unlikely that either applicant would be able to develop license applications for more than a small percentage of the sites. Both developers responded, strongly opposing a shutdown of permitting on the lower Mississippi.

FFP had said hydrokinetic generation involves gathering more dispersed energy across larger areas than conventional hydropower. It said neither the number of sites nor the number of river miles is a meaningful measure of the magnitude of FFP’s proposed developments.

“It would devastate FFP’s ability to follow through with license applications for projects in which it has already invested significant investment dollars and diligent efforts under initial permits,” FFP said of the proposed change.

Northland Power’s attorney, Carolyn Elefant, had added, “Here, the commission’s proposal to decline to issue any preliminary permits for the Mississippi River sites is inconsistent with the commission’s (1) past precedent on issuance of successive permits and (2) policy of promoting competition and limiting site banking articulated in the Notice of Inquiry and Policy Statement Preliminary Permits for Wave, Current and Instream New Technology Hydropower (February 15, 2007).”

FERC letters inform developers of course change

FERC’s change of course was almost an aside in June 9 letters to the two developers.

“After reviewing all of the resulting filings, staff has determined that it is appropriate to continue processing permit applications on the lower Mississippi River at this time,” Chief Mark Pawlowski of the South Branch, Division of Hydropower Licensing, wrote.

One letter announced that FFP’s applications for 43 permits had been accepted for processing by the commission. The other informed Northland Power that its applications for 40 permits were deficient and requested additional information within 30 days.

In its April 29 response, FFP had said it would defer to FERC’s objective to promote competition and immediately withdrew 58 of 60 applications for new sites on 419 miles of the Mississippi.

Guide offers strategies for addressing recreation issues

The Hydropower Reform Coalition and National Park Service have jointly released a guide that offers strategies to deal with potential recreation issues as new hydrokinetic energy technologies are being proposed in rivers and oceans.

Topics covered in “Hydrokinetic Energy Projects and Recreation: A Guide to Assessing Impacts” include:

HRC and NPS intend the 119-page guide to be useful to developers, regulators and the general public as the U.S. looks to generate more energy using hydrokinetic technologies.

— The guide can be downloaded for free at www.hydroreform.org/hydroguide/hydrokinetic-recreation.

Coalition completes marine roadmap document

The Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition (OREC) has adopted the U.S. Marine Hydrokinetic Roadmap.

This roadmap covers all aspects of the marine renewable energy industry, including wave, tidal, river current, ocean thermal, and osmotic energy (collectively referred to as marine hydrokinetic or MHK). The roadmap focuses on the scientific, technical, and nontechnical steps necessary to overcome the barriers to the widespread use of MHK technologies. These barriers include siting and permitting, environmental research, technical research and development, policy, market development, economics and financial, grid integration, and education and workforce training.

The roadmap is based on four main elements:

The roadmap was developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for OREC. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program provided support for development of the roadmap.

— The roadmap can be accessed online at www.oceanrenewable.com.

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