Wave Energy Powers Maritime Security

Ocean Powers Technologies (OPT) has a good thing going with the military. The company recently announced the first buoy-to-grid connection in the United States, bringing wave power ashore at a Marine Corps base in Hawaii. And now it has been awarded $2.75 million to move into the second stage of work providing power for a near-coast anti-terrorism and maritime surveillance program off the New Jersey coast.

The New Jersey project is part of the Navy’s Littoral Expeditionary Autonomous PowerBuoy (LEAP) program. A key difference with the Hawaii project is that the goal is to provide non-grid connected wave power at sea. OPT said this project entails combining a number of technologies, including at-sea sensors, communications, real-time signal processing and their PowerBuoy — the device that actually gathers energy from waves — with the ultimate aim of developing a self powering vessel detection system.

image via Ocean Power Technologies

In the first phase of the project, OPT delivered the design for the project and tested a new power take-off system for the autonomous PowerBuoy. The company said this represented a major step toward developing a LEAP-based vessel detection system. In the next stage, running for a year, OPT will actually build and ocean-test the system.

In the press release announcing the new funding, OPT’s Charles Dunleavy pointed to the importance of his company’s ties with the military. “Over a numbers of years, the U.S. Navy has provided key funding to OPT for the development of our core PowerBuoy technology. This has provided the platform from which we have developed our autonomous PowerBuoy, as well as our 150 kilowatt-rated utility PowerBuoys now being built in Oregon and Scotland.”

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.