FERC issues wave energy license

Monday, August 20, 2012

Federal energy regulators have issued a license to a wave energy project off the Oregon coast.  If built as proposed, the project could be the first grid-tied commercial-scale wave energy project in U.S. waters.

A sailboat cruises past the Bear Island Lighthouse near Northeast Harbor, Maine.
Last week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a license (76-page PDF) to Reedsport OPT Wave Park, LLC for the ocean energy project.  In its license application filed in January 2010, the Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. subsidiary proposed a buoy-based wave energy conversion project to be located about 2.5 nautical miles off the coast of Reedsport, in Douglas County, Oregon.  Water depths in the project area range from about 204 to 225 feet.

According to the FERC order issuing the project's license, the project will generate electricity from using ten PowerBuoy wave energy converters anchored to the seafloor.  Each buoy will have a 150 kilowatt nameplate capacity; physically, each buoy has a maximum diameter of 36 feet, extends 29.5 feet above water, and has a draft of 115 feet.
The marine renewable energy project will be built in two phases.  In the first phase, a single PowerBuoy will be installed; this will enable the developer to test the mooring system and buoy operation, as well as to study the electromagnetic fields and acoustic emissions produced by the project.  This single buoy will not be connected to the grid.  After at least one season of monitoring this single buoy, the developer will add up to nine additional PowerBuoys and connect the array to the mainland grid. The ten buoy units will be deployed in an array of three rows about 330 feet apart, with a footprint of about 30 acres.

The developer reportedly expects to install the first buoy by the end of 2012, with the remaining generators to be installed by 2015.  FERC's license for the project has a term of 35 years.

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