This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
Wave Energy Going Commercial with License and Power Contract
Finavera Renewables Inc., a developer of wave energy systems, took two major steps toward commercialization of its technology in late December: it became the first ocean energy company to earn a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and it signed the nation's first power purchase agreement for a wave power plant. FERC announced on December 20th that it issued a conditioned five-year license to Finavera's Makah Bay Offshore Wave Pilot Project in Washington State. The license is conditioned on Finavera obtaining all necessary federal permits for the one-megawatt project, which will consist of four 250-kilowatt floating buoys connected to shore by a 3.7-mile underwater transmission cable. The test project will be located 1.9 nautical miles off the shore of Waatch Point in Clallam County. To retain its license, Finavera must start construction within two years and must complete construction within three years of the license date. See Finavera's description of the pilot project and the FERC press release and order (PDF 192 KB). Download Adobe Reader.
Just days before receiving its FERC license, Finavera signed a power purchase agreement with California's Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for the power produced by its proposed two-megawatt wave power plant to be located off the state's northern coast. Finavera proposes to build the Humboldt County Offshore Wave Energy Power Plant about 2.5 miles off the coast, with power production expected to begin in 2012. The facility will use Finavera's "AquaBuOYs," tethered buoys that use wave motion to force pressurized seawater through hoses. The pressurized water then drives a turbine to produce electricity. See the PG&E press release and Finavera's description of its AquaBuOY wave energy converters.
A related technology drawing on ocean tidal currents is also making headway, as Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) has launched its first prototype off the coast of Eastport, Maine. The power module consists of a 25-foot-long tube, four feet in diameter, housing two turbines with a generator in the center. The module is submerged 30 feet below a barge, which is moored in the channel that runs from Eastport to Deer Island, New Brunswick. The prototype can generate up to 25 kilowatts of power, but a full-scale power module is expected to have a one-megawatt capacity. See the ORPC press releases from before and after the launch.