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Ocean Power Technologies gets FERC green light for utility-scale wave power plant

Ocean Power Technologies, a wave energy technology company, has become the first firm in the US to be issued a FERC licence for a wave power station.

The regulatory approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) paves the wave for Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) to deploy up to ten of its PowerBuoy wave power devices, which will be able to generate enough power for around 1000 homes.

The 35-year licence for the 1.5 MW grid-connected wave power station was granted to OPT subsidiary Reedsport OPT Wave Park LLC. The utility-scale wave power plant will be built off the coast of Reedsport, Oregon - construction of the first PowerBuoy is almost complete and should be ready for deployment 2.5 miles off the Reedsport coast later this year.

Funding for the project has come from the US Department of Energy (DOE), with the support of the Oregon Congressional delegation and PNGC Power, an Oregon electric power cooperative.

Charles F. Dunleavy, OPT’s CEO, says the project is an important milestone for the US wave energy industry as well as OPT itself. “The 35-year term of the license demonstrates the commercial potential of wave power, and this will support initiatives to secure financing for the project,” he said.

During its assessment, the FERC gave strong consideration to the OPT’s Settlement Agreement with 11 federal and Oregon state agencies and three non-governmental stakeholders for the project. The agreement confirms the responsible, phased approach to the development of the project with regard to the protection of ocean resources and stakeholder interests including aquatic resources, water quality, recreation, public safety, crabbing and fishing and terrestrial and cultural resources. It includes an Adaptive Management Plan which will be used to identify and implement any environmental studies that may be required as well as forming a blueprint for the application of this information as the project develops.

After the initial deployment of the first PowerBuoy, OPT says it will precede with the other nine devices and grid connection infrastructure, subject to funding and securing all necessary regulatory approvals.

Written by Robin Whitlock 

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