Wave Energy Moves to Test Underwater Grid Links

PENNINGTON, N.J., Nov. 2 (UPI) — The prospect of generating large volumes of electricity and then distributing power through underwater grid lines is nearer with successful tests announced Monday.

New Jersey-based Ocean Power Technologies Inc. said it tested the feasibility of setting up wave power substations underwater and linking the pods to grids on land for onward transmission of the electricity to consumers. The test results were also reported simultaneously by the London Stock Exchange.


The company said it carried out the tests in Spain, proving the feasibility of “cleaner, safer, more efficient” form of energy produced from the ocean waves.

The Underwater Substation Pod, based on a proprietary design, collects power from up to 10 of OPT’s proprietary PowerBuoys afloat in the ocean and transmits electricity via a subsea power cable to a shore-based grid.

OPT said the pod had been developed as an open platform and could provide “plug and play” connectivity for any offshore energy device linked to it.

Underwater trials of the pods included pressure testing, running electric power to and from the system, and verification of data communication capabilities.

The tests were carried out as part of an OPT contract with Iberdrola Marinas de Cantabria, a special-purpose company whose shareholders include Iberdrola S.A., the major Spanish utility company, Sodercan, a regional development agency for northern Spain’s Cantabria region, IDAE, the energy agency of the Spanish government, and Total oil and gas company.

OPT said the Underwater Substation Pod was a “unique product” in the offshore market, creating a potentially new revenue stream from sales to third parties that are engaged in marine power development and other offshore activities.

OPT currently earns most of its income from the PowerBuoys. The vessels are designed for utility-scale power generation or for autonomous applications, such as offshore homeland security. The PowerBuoy is designed as a “smart” system capable of responding to differing wave conditions.

Wave power generation is a developing area of growth for industries seeking renewable energy. In recent years, momentum has been added to a global quest for alternatives to oil as a result of concerns over climate change, sharp fluctuation in the prices of hydrocarbons and uncertainty over supply. In South America and Europe, geothermal power has also received attention from both national and overseas companies.

OPT specializes in wave-energy technologies in a $150 billion annual power generation equipment market. The company’s PowerBuoy system is based on modular, ocean-going buoys that capture and convert predictable wave energy into electricity. OPT has headquarters in Pennington, N.J., and offices in Warwick, England.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International


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