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Deployment of utility-scale PowerBuoy wave energy device delayed to 2013

Originally planned for next month, bad weather has delayed the planned deployment of a utility-scale wave energy device off the coast of Reedsport, Oregon, until spring 2013.

Final testing of the PowerBuoy by its developer Ocean Power Technologies has been on track for completion ahead of final assembly and readiness for deployment in October 2012. The company had planned to tow the completed wave power device approximately 300 miles from the Portland area dry dock to its deployment site about 2.5 nautical miles west of Reedsport.

The early onset of unfavorable weather conditions in recent days has “significantly impacted” the installation of moorings however. In addition, uncertainty regarding weather conditions over the October timeframe has increased the risks of incurring substantial deployment vessel “standby” costs and adverse safety conditions while transiting the buoy over the distance from the dry dock to the deployment site, OPT says.

“The buoy itself is designed to perform well during severe weather once installed, but during transit there are concerns for towing stability in the harsh conditions now more frequent,” the company said. Charles Dunleavy, Chief Executive Officer of OPT, stressed that safety concerns are paramount.

“We are not prepared to compromise the safety of crews or their vessels, or the OPT PowerBuoy system itself enroute to the site and during the deployment and commissioning,” he said. “We remain committed to developing this wave energy project, and this process will serve to enhance our future deployments. In light of the increased weather, safety and cost risks, it is the right decision to plan for deployment next spring.”

The PowerBuoy, which incorporates a new direct drive power take off system, will be the first of up to 10 proposed devices licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the grid-connected Reedsport OPT Wave Park. The 1.5MW project will generate enough electricity to power about 1000 homes. 

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