Jul 21 2012

OPT Plans for Huge Wave Energy Project in Australia


OPT PowerBuoy

On July 11th,, Ocean Power Technologies (OPT), the company that designed one of the leading point absorber devices – PowerBouy – announced plans to collaborate with Lockheed Martin to initiate a wave energy project off the coast of Portland, Australia.  The project hopes to generate 19 megawatts of power, one of the largest goals of a wave energy project currently set.  Part of the projects great potential stems from the fact that the Commonwealth of Australia plans to subsidize it with a large grant of $65.3 million USD.  The total amount of the plans in have yet to be released.

Australia has been heralded as having striking wave energy resources.  According to a paper in 2010 by the American Institute of Physics that examined the wave energy potential along Australia’s southern coast (where Portland is located), it’s estimated that “if 10% of the incident near-shore energy in this region…were converted to electricity, approximately 130 TW h/yr (one-half ofAustralia’s total present-day electricity consumption) would be produced.” Although this would be an extremely ambitious goal, the country must start somewhere. As the majority of the country is desert, a large percentage of the population resides on the coast, making ocean energy resources even more economical and attractive has an investment. In addition to the potential for sustainable energy, the OPT/Lockheed project would potentially generate hundreds of local jobs that would be relatively secure for the life of the power station.

This project, with its scale, is one of the first of its kind and therefore the success rate is largely unknown.  While it sounds extremely worthwhile and promising, there is still a long way to go.  With a project this large, there will surely be many roadblocks.  The news release did not provide any timeline for developments, as it seems to still be in its preliminary stages.  The environmental impacts of what is sure to be a relatively large wave energy device would be interesting to consider when you take into account the already fragile state of much of Australia’s delicate underwater coastline.  The tourism industry of the “outback’s” coast will also have something to say about putting these devices in the water; because where big waves exist, the surfing industry follows.  As the project moves forward, it will set a precedent for other areas and countries with valuable wave energy resources. Hopefully, for the sake of the project and for future developments, OPT will show the world just how much potential lies in energy from the ocean waves.

Read the full news relaese: http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=155437&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1713860&highlight


Hemer, M. A., and D. A. Griffin. “The Wave Energy Resource along Australia%u2019s Southern Margin.” Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy 2.4 (2010): n. pag. American Institute of Physics, 5 Aug. 2010. Web. 21 July 2012. http://jrse.aip.org.libproxy.lib.unc.edu/resource/1/jrsebh/v2/i4/p043108_s1.

Image under the Free Art License, credit to www.oceanpowertechnologies.com

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