By Kari Williamson
The wave power device, which was deployed under the US Navy's Littoral Expeditionary Autonomous PowerBuoy (LEAP) programme, was in the direct path of Hurricane Irene, which hit the New Jersey coastline at the end of August.
The PowerBuoy emerged from the two-day storm undamaged and fully operational, with all the buoy's systems having withstood wave heights of up to 15 m (nearly 50 ft), OPT says.
During the storm, the wave power device continued to supply consistent power to its communications and radar payload, and dissipate the high amounts of surplus energy it produced.
Furthermore, nearly constant communication was maintained with the wave power device throughout the storm, allowing continuous on-land monitoring of the buoy's status and performance.
The PowerBuoy operated on a fully autonomous basis, implementing the requisite power management and system protection functions without the need for any human intervention, OPT says.
Charles F. Dunleavy, CEO of OPT, comments: "We are pleased to report the outstanding performance of our PowerBuoy off the coast of New Jersey during Hurricane Irene's onslaught. Despite encountering significant wave heights, the buoy continued to produce power and operated exactly as designed for extreme sea conditions. On Monday morning, after the storm passed, our PowerBuoy was right on station where it had originally been deployed and was operating to the Navy's specifications as it did prior to the storm.
“This achievement stands as an important testament to the skills and innovation of our engineering and operations teams. Following the successful operation of our utility PowerBuoy at the Marine Corps Base in Hawaii during the tsunami-driven waves caused by the earthquake in Japan earlier in 2011, the performance of this LEAP buoy further demonstrates the reliability of OPT's core PowerBuoy products and the viability of wave power as an alternative source of energy."
The PowerBuoy wave power device continues to undergo sea trials approximately 20 miles off the coast of New Jersey under a US Navy programme for coastal security and maritime surveillance.
The LEAP PowerBuoy structure, incorporating a power take-off and on-board energy storage system, is significantly smaller and more compact than OPT's standard utility PowerBuoy. It is designed to provide persistent, off-grid, clean energy in remote ocean locations for a wide variety of maritime security and monitoring applications.