The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S Navy have historically fueled their offshore radar and communications systems with diesel generators. However, these power sources require frequent maintenance and refueling at sea. The Navy’s Littoral Expeditionary Autonomous PowerBuoy (LEAP) program has helped to develop an alternative power supply for maritime security and monitoring equipment using the most plentiful energy source in the world: ocean waves.
This month, Ocean Power Technologies (OPT), a developer of wave-powered generators, announced the deployment of an autonomous PowerBuoy generator designed and manufactured under the Navy’s program. Last fall, we reported on OPT getting $2.75 million to move into the second stage of work on the LEAP program. The system was deployed on August 11 by a Coast Guard vessel, and will be tested approximately 20 miles off the coast of New Jersey. Compared to OPT’s standard utility PowerBuoy, which has been deployed in Scotland and is planned for Oregon, the LEAP PowerBuoy is smaller and more compact, and includes an on-board energy storage system to provide reliable off-grid power in remote ocean locations.
Sophisticated maritime surveillance equipment for vessel detection and tracking requires lower levels of power than that delivered by the electricity grid. Under the LEAP program, OPT has worked in partnership with Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences and CODAR Ocean Sensors to integrate its PowerBuoy with existing radar network and communications infrastructure. As a result, the PowerBuoy can be used to power maritime surveillance equipment in the near coast, harbors and littoral zones worldwide, and even in extended zero-wave conditions. The system will also provide ocean current mapping data for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and US Coast Guard search and rescue operations.
Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. has more than 15 years of experience developing on-grid and off-grid wave-energy generation systems. OPT is headquartered in Pennington, New Jersey, USA with an office in Warwick, UK.