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The Leading Edge

FERC approves license for first wave power station in the U.S.

Reedsport Ocean Power Technologies Wave Park LLC, a subsidiary of Ocean Power Technologies, has received a 35-year license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for its 1.5-MW Reedsport OPT Wave Park off the coast of Reedsport, Ore.

The Reedsport project consists of 10 PowerBuoy wave energy converters placed in a 35-acre section of the Pacific Ocean. The project will be managed from the land in Gardiner, Ore.

This is the first license of its kind granted in the U.S.

The license, issued Aug. 13, permits Reedsport OPT Wave Park LLC to install a 150-kW PowerBuoy for mooring system and unit operation testing. OPT will also measure acoustic emissions and electromagnetic fields. The off-grid unit will be installed by the end of the year and will remain in place for at least one season. After sufficient data is collected, the second phase will involve installation of nine additional PowerBuoys connected to the grid both by underground and undersea transmission lines.

"The issuance of this license ... represents the culmination of thorough due diligence and consideration of input from a broad array of groups interested in our Reedsport project," says OPT Chief Executive Officer Charles F. Dunleavy.

Oregon contractors involved in the project as manufacturers include American Bridge Manufacturing, Sause Bros., Cascade General and Oregon Iron Works.

Funding for the project came from the U.S. Department of Energy, with additional support by PNGC Power, an electric power cooperative in Oregon, and the Oregon Congressional delegation. Eleven state and federal agencies and three non-governmental groups signed an agreement with OPT that includes enhancement, protective and mitigation measures. This impacted the license provisions set by FERC, OPT says.

The project is estimated to cost US$804.67 per MWh, which is more than power generated alternatively; however, the project environmental assessment proposes the long-term results of the project would be worth the cost.

Details on future testing

OPT signed an agreement, the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate in September, which allows OPT to conduct in-ocean tests with its APB-350 PowerBuoy wave energy system.

The company will deploy a PowerBuoy unit off the New Jersey coast to determine its effectiveness in detecting maritime vessels.

The Maryland Technology Development Cor. previously awarded OPT a US5,000 grant to fund the project and demonstrate the system's ability to work with a variety of surveillance technologies.

Previous testing includes the U.S. Navy's Littoral Expeditionary Autonomous PowerBuoy (LEAP) program, which ended in February. The goal of the program was to see if the unit could assist in lowering the Navy's maintenance and fuel replenishment costs for offshore equipment. Results from these tests showed that the unit could be used as a reliable and consistent power source for offshore devices regardless of difficult sea conditions.

Bay of Fundy subsea cable completes test run

The Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) tested a cable deployment of its planned subsea transmission cable in August.

Halifax-based contractor IT International Telecom deployed a subsea cable like the one to be used in the Minas Passage of the Bay of Fundy at a test site near Parrsboro.

The test utilized the personnel and equipment that will deploy the future cable, including two Z-drive tugboats of 4000 hp and a barge. IT International Telecom personnel and subcontractors rearranged the equipment in a variety of configurations to determine the most effective and efficient method of deployment depending on a series of possible maritime conditions. Station keeping was also rehearsed from the shoreline as the cable was deployed at sea.

"They spent two days learning all kinds of things about how to operate in future conditions under that really challenging tidal site," says FORCE spokesperson Matthew Lumley.

IT International Telecom will evaluate results from the tests to determine the best approach to deploying the 16-MW, 6.8-mile (11 km) cable in the Minas Passage.

The deployment date has not been determine at this point. Once online, the transmission cable will relay 64 MW of tidal capacity to FORCE.


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