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America’s Premiere Wave Power Farm Sets Sail, posted in Future Energy, Industry, Wave Power.


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America’s Premiere Wave Power Farm Sets Sail

News » Energy | Biofuels | Environment | Hydrogen | Solar | Transportation | Wind
March 14th, 2010 - View Comments

Wave Power Farm Wave energy is among the impressive list of renewable energy resources that is being developed in the United States. New Jersey-based developer, Ocean Power Technologies has launched a project that features the nation’s first commercial wave power farm off the coast of Reedsport, Oregon. Once the project is completed, wave energy will generate power for several hundred homes in Oregon. The wave power farm operates on the wave energy that is created when a float on a buoy flows with the natural up and down movement of the waves.

This action subsequently causes an attached plunger to follow the same kind of ebb and flow movement. The plunger is attached to a hydraulic pump that changes the vertical movement to a circular motion, which drives an electric generator to produce electricity that is sent to shore through submerged cables.

When the initial project is finished, the first $4 million dollar buoy will measure 150 feet tall by 40 feet wide, weighing 200 tons. Nine more of these crafts will be set in motion by the year 2012 for a total cost of $60 million dollars. About four hundred homes will receive electricity from Oregon’s wave power farm by the completion of the project.

The wave energy project has promising potential, but has encountered some degree of skepticism and is faced with several areas of concern. One factor is that wave power is still in the early stages of development and is rather costly, running about five or six times more than wind power. Secondly, many people question how the buoys can be stabilized in the water to gather the energy from wave power. Another concerning factor is that waves are so unpredictable, and the size of the waves could result in either equipment damage of lack of cost effectiveness.

The wave power farm is a developing renewable energy source that could potentially compete with wind and solar energy, although it has had a bit of a shaky start. The first commercial wave power farm was developed in Portugal in 2008, but the project was suspended indefinitely last year for financial reasons. In addition, a wave-powered technology that was developed by a Canadian company sank off the Oregon coast two years ago.

The Oregon wave power farm is being funded by several sources, including Oregon tax credits, Pacific Northwest Generating Cooperative and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The wave power farm concept has a great deal of promise and there are other projects around the world that are being developed in Spain, Scotland, Western Australia and off the coast of Cornwall, England. In the United States, Oregon Power Technologies is developing a wave power technology program in Hawaii in conjunction with the U.S. Navy.

What do you think?

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  • slick

    Always glad to see pioneers trying things.

  • locojhon

    Nice pipe dream for 400 houses, perhaps.
    But at a cost of $150,000 per house?
    Imo, that’s crazy expensive, and if $5000 were spent on winterization/greater efficiency/individual solar systems instead, 12,000 homes would benefit, 300 times that of the original wave project.
    Something does not add up here…others?
    locoto

  • John Bamberger

    This is not a bad idea – sounds like an expensive project for only a few hundred homes. I sort of pictured capturing the back and forth motion of the waves closer to shore.

    I can really see people complaining about how those buoys ruin the view from prime beachfront property or resort – the same thing as the windmills off Cape Cod.

  • Cal

    60 million dollars for 400 homes? That’s $150,000 per household. That’s more than 3 times the average American household income.

  • Phil

    I agree with locojhon:

    I did the sum too and it just doesn’t work financially, $150000 per household over a 25 year period works out to $6000 per year and thats without interest.

    @4%
    Minimum monthly repayments $791.76
    Total you will pay $237,526.58

    “The Oregon wave power farm is being funded by several sources, including Oregon tax credits, Pacific Northwest Generating Cooperative and the U.S. Department of Energy.”

    Where is this technology going? It could only be justified as a pilot. What is the financial thinking here.

    Personally I would get grumpy about an energy bill of $800 a month

  • Rob

    If the first buoy cost $4 million, then how does an additional 9 cost $60 million?

  • Chris

    Perhaps, the potential is there, but the cost is just outrageous. As someone else said it is nice to see people trying new things, but perhaps this money would be better spent going into a wind farm off the coast?

  • John Bergdoll

    Wave energy holds tremendous potential. I agree that in time it has the potential to compete with other renewable energy resources which, by the way, were also very expensive in their early development stages. The learning curve is expensive now but with experience, experimentation and lessons learned we will all benefit form it.

    Twitter @JohnBergdoll

  • Nii Laye

    The cost seems prohibitive but future scaled-up project will in a short time be cost effective. prototypes are padded usually with more redundancies therefore the cost hike.
    better design emerge with study and testing. by the way it is cheaper than the cost of the wars in iraq or afghanistan.

  • Just me

    OK, the tie to the wars is unnecessary. All new technologies cost money, that’s why they’re called investments. The “purchase” is buying down risk and/or developing technology so that one day we can buy them as disposables. Compare the brick cell-phones of the 80’s to today’s cellphones, or even the personal computer. The fact that people will benefit immediately from the first to market prototypes is a success. They won’t recoup their costs and make profits, but it will minimize their losses as they develop more and more things.

  • Robert

    If you think $150,000 per household is expensive for a new technology, you should calculate the trillions (!) of dollars since World War II that have been put into nuclear energy research, technical development and implementation — which does not include the “unfunded mandate” that we all (including our children and grandchildren many times over) still face, that of finding a safe way to store nuclear waste for the next half billion years.

    While I agree that $150,000 per household is not commercially viable, that’s always the case with new technology. Some will prove viable after the technology has improved; others never will. That is true in electronics, pharmacology, transportation or any other industry or area of study.

  • Electric

    Ocean power is the wave of the future and the next microsoft!! Costs are high now in everything once mastered and mass developed it will be cheaper than wind with the bonus that the ocean never stops moving “24″ “7″ this is the time to get in before its to late ! “strong buy” visit their web site and you will learn about there projects! That should give you enough info! GLTA

  • Narasimha 239

    Some will prove viable after the technology has improved; others never will. That is true in electronics, pharmacology, transportation or any other industry or area of study.

    The fact that people will benefit immediately from the first to market prototypes is a success. They won’t recoup their costs and make profits, but it will minimize their losses as they develop more and more things.

    The cost seems prohibitive but future scaled-up project will in a short time be cost effective. prototypes are padded usually with more redundancies therefore the cost hike.

  • Bryan

    I think that wave technology is likely to be one of the most important sources of alternative energy. Think about how many buoys could go in the Atlantic Ocean without disturbing too much of the wildlife.

  • http://www.greenoctober.co.uk tim bastable

    if the buoys are 4 million each and there are ten in total project cost should be 40 million dollars – where does the discrepancy come from? And absolutely agree with the other comments – this is prohibitively expensive technology – with huge embedded energy costs too – 1 single 3 mW windturbine would more than power 400 homes

  • drkatherineaaron

    You guys have to remember that ALL new technologies come with hefty price tags. Remember when personal computers first came out people said the same thing you guys are saying, “oh, this is too expensive. Personal computing will never be feasible because of the cost.” I remember those days! Seriously, you have to look at renewable energy technologies as a NEW technology and remember that the more who buy them, the price goes down.

    We are the generation making the choice that affects our children’s children. Do we have the courage to boldly take on that responsibility or do we leave behind more Fukushimas, Chernobyls and Three Mile Islands…not to mention the tons of radio active waste being trucked in everyday to my state for storage.

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