Wave Power Delivers Electricity to US Grid For First Time

power buoy oahu photo

photo: Ocean Power Technologies

While wave power often seems like the poor cousin of the renewable energy world, and frankly doesn't have the practical potential of wind or solar power, tapping the power of the sea does have its place and this next one is worth a bit of hand clapping: One of Ocean Power Technologies' PowerBuoys can claim to be the first wave power device to deliver electricity to the US grid. As Renewable Energy World reports:

OPT's PB40 PowerBuoy was hooked up to the grid at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii as part of the firm's program with the US Navy to test wave energy technology. The connection demonstrates the device's ability to produce utility-grade renewable energy that can be transmitted to the grid according to international and national standards, says the firm.

The PowerBuoy was deployed three-quarters of a mile off the coast of Oahu last year and has produced power for more than 4,400 hours of operation. As for environmental impact, independent evaluation has found the PowerBuoy to have no significant impact. All good news, if a small step forward.

power buoy size comparison chart

Comparison of various sized PowerBuoys next to a wind turbine via OPT.

If you're unfamiliar with how the OPT's PowerBuoy's work, this passage from 2008 here on TreeHugger will fill in some of the knowledge gap:

While most tidal power uses a underwater mounted turbine of some sort the Power Buoy relies instead on the rising and falling of the waves to generate power. Power is transmitted to the shore via underwater cable. OPT says that the a 10 MW power station using this technology would occupy 12.5 hectares of ocean. Theoretically the technology is scalable to 100 MW power stations, according to OPT's website.

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More on Wave Power:
The Tide's Rising For Wave Power: Power Buoys Installed Off the Spanish Coast
10-30 MW Wave Power Project Touted by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom
Congress Members to DOE: We Want $250 Million for Wave Power Research

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