Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) deployed its first commercial PB3 PowerBuoy—a wave energy conversion system that incorporates energy storage—off the coast of New Jersey this July.
The Pennington, N.J.–based firm has been working to advance its PowerBuoy technology since the firm was founded in 1994. Development of the wave energy conversion technology for naval and civilian applications was catalyzed by small-business innovative research (SBIR) funding awards from the U.S. Navy. By 1997, following trials of a handful of PowerBuoy designs in the Navy’s wave tank facility and in the Atlantic Ocean, OPT demonstrated that the buoy could operate for more than 11 months at sea and endure harsh ocean conditions. Beginning in 2001, the company began developing more wave power systems at the Marine Corps base in Oahu, Hawaii. In 2005, it installed its first 40-kW buoy 1 mile off the coast of Oahu. That unit connected to the grid for the first time in 2010, following 4,400 hours of operation.
Deployment of the PB3 PowerBuoy (Figure 3) marks a major milestone for the company. The PB3 incorporates “multiple enhancements” over early prototypes, including a redesigned power take-off, a battery pack, a higher voltage power management and distribution system, and a new auto-ballasting system, which the company says allows for faster and less costly deployment.
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