Wave Energy Brings Oregon Green Jobs

News from New Jersey based Ocean Power Technologies indicates that wave energy will likely be bringing more green jobs and revenue to Oregon businesses soon and shows promise for much more in the future. In a recent statement issued by OPT, the company lists four new contracts with Oregon based businesses that would bring about the deployment of its first PowerBuoy wave energy generating device off the Oregon coast near Reedsport. If things go well with the initial PowerBuoy deployment and subsequent testing, OPT has plans to deploy up to nine more of the devices and a grid connection infrastructure which the company says would constitute the first commercial-scale wave power station in the US.

OPT is currently running two deployment and testing programs, one near Invergordon, Scotland and the other in Reedsport, Oregon. Earlier this year we reported on the completion of OPT’s first PB150 PowerBuoy which is due to be deployed off of Scotland’s northeast coast soon. With these new contracts, OPT intends to have another PB150 constructed and deployed off the Oregon coast later this year.

image via Ocean Power Technologies

The PB150 is a 135 foot long, floating wave energy harvester. The top portion of the buoy-near where the device breaks the water’s surface-is about 36 feet in diameter. The motion of the ocean’s waves moves the lower portion of the device which, in turn, drives a generator. OPT says that it expects the device to be capable of generating a sustained maximum peak-rated output of 150 kilowatts. OPT has also developed an Underwater Substation Pod (USP) which can aggregate the electrical output from up to ten (10) PB150 PowerBuoys into a single transmission cable to shore.

OPT awarded contracts to four Oregon businesses that will finish building a PB150 and assist in its deployment. American Bridge Manufacturing, located in the city of Reedsport, will manufacture the subsurface floats and tow-out fixtures that are part of the mooring system for the PowerBuoy. Cascade General, located at the Portland Shipyard, will perform the final assembly of the PowerBuoy and position it in the Columbia River for towing to the coast. Oregon Iron Works, which has already built PowerBuoy’s steel spar under a separate contract, will perform the insertion and assembly of OPT’s “power take-off” and internal electronics into the PowerBuoy spar. Sause Bros, a marine transportation services firm headquartered in Coos Bay, Oregon, will assist OPT in the deployment of the PowerBuoy, including towing it from the final assembly site in Portland to the Port of Coos Bay, then positioning and installing the buoy, mooring lines and anchors at the Reedsport site.

Including the previous contract with Oregon Iron Works, the contracts total $6 million worth of business for Oregon based companies, as well as employment in the green tech sector for those working on the buoy system.