Posted: 24 Jun 2012 06:59 AM PDT
Ocean waves could soon be powering thousands of homes and businesses in the Reedsport, Oregon area, and a good part of the credit will be due to the U.S. Navy. The technology, called PowerBuoy® from Ocean Power Technologies, underwent two years of development at the Navy’s wave power test facility in Hawaii, and this is just the beginning. The Navy recently announced that it will be upgrading and expanding the site to provide more opportunities for innovators to test commercial-scale wave power devices.
Power from waves
Ocean Power calls its utility-scale version of the PowerBuoy the PB150. As the buoy bobs up and down on offshore waves, it produces a mechanical stroking motion. That movement is transferred to a “power take-off” unit that drives an on-board generator. The resulting electrical power gets transmitted to shore by cable.
In this latest step along the way to deployment, Ocean Power has completed factory testing of the take-off unit, and it is being installed into the buoy.
The take-off unit represents a step up from the company’s initial efforts. It is scaled up from earlier versions, and its direct drive system has greater efficiency compared to a hydraulic drive that was used in the first PowerBuoy designs.
Thanks for the wave power, U.S. Navy
When Ocean Power began testing the PowerBuoy a couple of years ago, the device served as the country’s first grid-connected wave energy system. It provided electricity to Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Oahu.
The Navy’s wave power test site, at Kaneohe Bay, actually dates back to the Bush Administration as part of the Navy’s long term partnership with the University of Hawaii’s National Marine Renewable Energy Center.
The new test site upgrade will enable wave power companies to test larger buoys, which can be positioned at greater depths.
It’s also worth noting that DARPA, the Pentagon’s cutting-edge research agency, has been funding research into wave power, though its main focus is on small-scale devices that would be used to provide power for surveillance buoys and other remote devices.
Wave power and green jobs
Take a look at some of the economic activity surrounding the outfitting of the PB150, and you’ll get a glimpse at the potential for wave power to create new green jobs in shipping, manufacturing and deployment.
The power take-off unit is being transported from the company’s New Jersey facility to Oregon Iron Works, which will connect it to the buoy’s spar. After that, the spar goes to another Oregon company, Vigor Marine, for final assembly and testing of the buoy.
Vigor Marine will also oversee launch of the buoy, and then it will be towed from the company’s Portland docks to a staging area at Reedsport/Coos Bay. Several other local companies will be involved in final deployment and connection, including the marine contractor Northwest Underwater Construction and the Knutson Towboat Company.
The PB150 will be ready for deployment late this summer, and then a period of shakeout and testing will follow. If all goes well, Ocean Power anticipates that it will eventually launch a string of PB150?s to bob among the waves.
Image: Some rights reserved by Capt’ Gorgeous.
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Posted: 23 Jun 2012 02:46 PM PDT
OK, time to finally reveal the results of our 2nd annual CleanTechnica reader survey!
1. What technologies are you most interested in seeing CleanTechnica cover?
Solar is again the leader (same as last year) — no surprise. And wind again comes in second.
This year, Energy Storage shot up to take the #3 spot, knocking Energy Efficiency down to #4 (it tied with Wind for #2 last year). #5 and #6 were EVs and Alternative Fuels, showing pretty strong demand for pieces on those Clean Transportation topics.
More or less, the overall split looks fairly similar to our content split. So, generally, I think we’ll keep doing what we’re doing (and several of the additional comments suggested that). Though, it looks like even a little more of a focus on Solar and Energy Storage may be in order.
2. Which aspects of cleantech are you most interested in?
Other than a strong preference for scientific advancements/news (same as last year), this part was extremely evenly split. Surprising, in my opinion. But, given that we currently cover all of these different arenas a bit, I guess the point is that we should, more or less, just keep doing what we’re doing.
Though, I think we will try to focus a bit more on cleantech science news and see how those posts do. As with #1, these results were quite similar to last year’s, except that the Consumer Options choice became less popular (a surprise to me).
We also had many interesting additional comments/suggestions. Will try to tackle some of those as we can.
3. How would you most like us to cover the topics above?
Another insanely even response (with plenty of additional comments).
Regarding one specific request, the printing of articles: I can try putting some different printing options on here, but I have always found it very easy to just highlight and copy the whole article and paste it into a Google Doc (or Word doc). Whoever added that comment, feel free to let me know if that would work for you.
4. IDEALLY (in a perfect world), how many articles would you like to see CleanTechnica publish in a day?
Luckily, I think the responses in #3 were clarified a bit with answers to this question. Very surprisingly to me, it looks like most readers don’t want us to publish a lot, with almost 80% of respondents wanting 8 articles or fewer published per day.
I think we’ll go ahead and try to satisfy that preference, but it is mighty hard given that there are SO many big cleantech stories every day, and that we have readers interested in a broad range of topics (see above). Also, wanting to remain the top cleantech site in the US, or even the world, it seems we should be the go-to site for all the most important goings on in the industry each day. But… maybe that can just be included in roundup posts?
5. How often do you visit CleanTechnica?
Just interesting to see. Wonder if the folks visiting more than once a day largely represent the minority who said they’d like to see 9+ posts a day.
6. How do you typically visit CleanTechnica?
More or less as expected. Though, I actually thought a little more of you were accessing the site through Google.
7. Are you a professional in the cleantech industry?
Decent percentage of readers actually in the cleantech industry.
8. Where did you first find out about CleanTechnica?
9. How long have you been a reader on CleanTechnica?