Rockhouse Mountain Energy plans 500MW wave energy project off Ireland's west coast
Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: OPTT and London Stock Exchange AIM: OPT) ("OPT" or the "Company") notes that Rockhouse Mountain Energy yesterday published the following announcement, which refers to OPT and the use of OPT's technology:
Rockhouse Mountain Energy, LLC ("RME"), a US company dedicated to the support, promotion and development of alternative energy sources, announced today at a reception of the Marine Energy and Smart Grid Technology Workshop sponsored by the US Embassy in Dublin, Ireland, that it is their intent to construct up to 500MW of wave power generation off the western coast of Ireland by 2020.
The wave power systems to be installed will be manufactured by Ocean Power Technologies Inc. ("OPT"), a NASDAQ- and AIM-listed company that specializes in the development and commercialization of wave energy based on its proprietary PowerBuoy® device.
OPT's PowerBuoy system is based on modular, ocean-going buoys that capture and convert predictable wave energy into low-cost, clean electricity. Its technology and energy systems benefit from over a decade of in-ocean experience and are insured by Lloyds Underwriters of London.
Mr. Robert Jawitz, Manager of RME, noted: "The excellent wave climate, the proactive support of the US Embassy, and the visionary policies and plans of the Irish Government, combined with OPT's planned timetable for the commercial roll out of its PB500 PowerBuoy (500kW), will allow for an OPT wave farm with a total capacity of 500MW to be installed off the Irish coast by 2020 to meet the wave component of Ireland's Energy Plan."
Dr. George W. Taylor, Executive Chairman of OPT, added: "OPT is pleased to be a part of the significant initiatives being undertaken by the Republic of Ireland to harness its plentiful renewable ocean energy resources, which complements our projects in Cornwall and Scotland. Rockhouse Mountain Energy has devoted much effort in recent years to working with the Irish Government and other stakeholders to develop wave energy in Ireland."
US group offers to meet State's wave energy targets
A US renewable energy company is proposing to meet the Governments target of generating 500 megawatts of electricity from ocean energy systems by 2020, holding out the possibility of generating tens of thousands of jobs in Ireland
Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) made the announcement last night at a reception in the US ambassadors residence in Dublins Phoenix Park during the course of a two-day workshop on marine energy and smart grids.
According to Robert Jawitz, of Rockhouse Mountain Energy (RME), which is investing in the project, it would have the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs in Ireland as all the hardware required for marine turbines would be manufactured here.
The wave power systems to be installed at an undisclosed location on the west coast would be produced by OPT, a Nasdaq and AIM-listed company that specialises in wave energy using its proprietary PowerBuoy device.
The excellent wave climate, the proactive support of the US embassy and the visionary policies and plans of the Irish Government ... will allow for an OPT wave farm with a total capacity of 500mw to be installed off the Irish coast by 2020, Mr Jawitz said.
He explained that OPT had been quietly working in the water since 1997, when it installed its first buoy off the coast of New Jersey. The next two were installed in Hawaii at a US naval base, where security meant that the development fell under the radar.
The two 40-kilowatt buoys were each 30 metres tall like a small ship and stood in 50 metres of water, tethered to the seabed.
After four continuous years of testing, theyve survived two hurricanes already, Mr Jawitz said.
OPT was now building a 150-kilowatt buoy in the Orkney Islands and was also carrying out further tests off the coast of Spain, while a 2-megawatt installation would be completed off the coast of Oregon by the end of this year, he said.
Working with Irish contacts, Mr Jawitz toured the west coast of Ireland looking for suitable sites and selected three based on their connectability to the electricity grid but he declined to identify them because of commercial confidentiality.
He said OPT would have the capacity to install a 40-megawatt wave turbine but plans to start with a 5-megawatt wave energy device, as this could proceed without delay under the terms set by the Commission for Electricity Regulation.
He also revealed that OPT was holding talks with Irish foundries over building all of the devices it would need to meet all of the Governments target of 500-megawatts for ocean power. This would involve constructing 1,000 40-megawatt buoys.
According to Mr Jawitz, were talking about a $2 billion number (1.54 billion) in terms of investment. This would create tens of thousands of jobs in construction and even more indirectly, and the real key is whether Ireland can step up to the plate. He was referring to the need for a more streamlined approval process that would clear all the obstacles to such developments.
There would also be a need for OPT to find suitable partners in Ireland, such as electricity suppliers, State agencies and even banks.
Were pretty confident based on the contacts weve had here that this is going to happen, Mr Jawitz said. Yesterday, it was announced that independent Irish firm Energia has signed a preliminary agreement with an American company, Ocean Energy Systems, for the installation of a prototype wave energy converter on a test site off Belmullet, Co Mayo.
Powered by 2.5 metre-high waves, the prototype device is capable of supplying 500 kilowatts of electricity to the grid, using a technology developed in the US by Dr Michael McCormick, who specialised in ocean wave energy at the US Naval Academy.
Energy workshop: generating renewable electricity
MORE THAN 150 business leaders and senior government officials from the Republic and Northern Ireland as well as representatives of US companies and research institutes are participating in a two-day energy workshop organised by the US embassy in Dublin.
The workshop, held at Farmleigh House yesterday and moving to Stormont today, is exploring new business opportunities in offshore marine electricity generating devices and use of smart grid management tools to integrate wave and wind power into electricity generation.
The event was opened by Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan, who said the workshop will help us tap into the potential we have for renewable energy in Ireland, particularly off our coasts in meeting Government targets.
US ambassador Daniel Rooney, who hosted a reception for attendees last night, said the turnout indicates the vast potential for future collaboration by companies and research institutions on both sides of the Atlantic in renewable energy.
The event is supported by Mr Ryans department, the Norths Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, IDA Ireland, Invest Northern Ireland, the Ibec-CBI Joint Business Council, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland.
General electric:renewable energy proposal
IRELAND IS seen by US giant General Electric (GE) as a great test market for developing a smart grid system to accommodate the Governments very large targets for renewable energy.
Bob Gilligan, vice-president for digital energy services, said yesterday that the company was already supporting a similar initiative in Hawaii, helping increase the use of wind and solar power on islands with no domestic source of fossil fuels.
The island of Ireland is seen by many as the perfect place to test and develop marine renewable energy. It has extensive offshore marine territory and the islands coastline is among the best in the world for offshore wind, wave and tidal resources, he said.
A smart grid would be needed to accommodate electricity generated from these resources, he explained. This would involve moving away from an energy system based on central generation, transmission and distribution, as it had been for the past 100 years.
Mr Gilligan defined a smart grid as a marriage of information technology and process technology to optimise the use of existing systems and squeeze more time out of them as well as involving electricity consumers more directly than at present.
Were working on that in Hawaii today, integrating renewables with energy storage and consumer response, he said.
The same can be done here on a larger scale, with the opportunity to develop a significant cutting-edge industry by the end of the next decade, he added.
Describing GE as a big broad player in the energy industry, he said it was committed to helping shrink the carbon footprint of electricity generation worldwide while at the same time increasing the energy capacity and reliability that countries need to thrive.
With nearly 85,000 employees worldwide and revenues of $37 billion (29 billion) last year, GE Energy describes itself as one of the worlds leading suppliers of power generation and energy delivery technologies.
Making a Splash: PG&E Dives Headlong Into Wave Power Project
by Ucilia Wang, Contributor
Published: 7 mai 2010
California, United States -- Drawing power from the churning sea can seem as difficult as finding Kraken the mythical sea monster. Despite tales of successful trials and imminent commercialization, the wave power industry remains largely in the research and development stages. But a utility-backed project in California could help propel this class of technology into a reliable supply of energy.
The Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) recently filed a federal application to build a 5-megawatt (MW) project about three miles off the coast of Humboldt County in Northern California. The utility plans to select three to four wave energy converter device makers for the 5-year project, which PG&E considers a pilot effort to test different types of technologies, said Jana Morris, a PG&E spokeswoman.
See list of companies that responded to PG&E's Wave Energy Converter System Request for Information
Studying wave energy is important for Californias future, Morris said. Renewable and clean energy is not only what our customers want but its the [best] thing for the environment.
The utilitys involvement is a big boost for wave power technology developers, many of whom have struggled to overcome technical problems or raise enough capital for their projects. Scotland-based Pelamis Wave Power suffered a major setback when its devices stopped working off the coast of Portugal in late 2008, and the company saw the departure of its CEO last year. Canada-based Finavera Renewables surrendered its federal license to build a project off the state of Washington last year, citing a difficulty in finding financing.
Finaveras license has been the only license issued by FERC, according to the agencys website. FERC has issued 10 permits for studying the feasibility of building wave power farms in the country, all of them located in the Pacific Ocean. The agency has one pending permit application for a project off Oregons coast.
PG&Es effort is a wonderful thing for the industry because they are leading the way to get all the permits and regulatory approval to get that done. That's a daunting task, said Bill Staby, CEO of Resolute Marine Energy, a Massachusetts-based startup.
PG&E has long showed a strong interest in wave power and at one point was poised to buy this type of electricity from what would've been the first wave energy project in California. The project, also proposed by Finavera, sank when the California Public Utilities Commission said no to the power purchase agreement in October 2008. The CPUC said the technology was too unproven and costly.
Since then, PG&E has stepped up efforts to explore wave power projects on its own. It has $1.2 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and $4.8 million in approved spending from the CPUC to take two projects through the regulatory processes, Morris said.
Aside from the Humboldt project, PG&E also is looking at developing a wave farm off Santa Barbara. The utility filed for a FERC permit last December to conduct a feasibility study and see if it's suitable for a project up to 100 MW in generation capacity.
Obtaining the license for the Humboldt project wont be a breeze, however. The utility still has to carry out an environmental study to figure out what monitoring and other measures are necessary to protect the marine resources. PG&E also is facing opposition from some of the local fishermen who have hired an attorney to negotiate compensations for financial losses that might be incurred by the wave farm operation.
How Much Will It Cost?
What PG&E and the tech developers it picks also will have to figure out are the costs of constructing and operating a 5-MW wave energy power station. PG&E estimates that it would need to spend $50 million just to cover the expenses of installing the infrastructure for power transmission, monitoring and other equipment, according to its FERC application. The figure doesnt include the cost of the wave energy converters, which make use of the wave motion to run a motor that in turn drives a turbine for electricity generation.
The operation and maintenance cost of the project is likely to be $5 million annually, though this figure excludes the cost of carrying out environmental protection measures, the filing said. The utility is still figuring out what those measures should be.
Company executives and analysts say wave power wont be cheap without large-scale deployment, but it could be competitive against other types of renewable energy. Waves have higher energy density compared to other renewable sources such as wind, so a wave power farm could produce more electricity more consistently and with a smaller footprint, said Paul Jacobson, the ocean energy leader and senior project manager at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).
Estimates for the cost of producing wave power range widely. A 2007 study by EPRI shows that a wave power farm in the United States that could generate 300,000 MWH per year is likely to see production costs of range from roughly $0.11-$0.39 per kWh, depending on its location.
The Carbon Trust has pegged the production cost at about 22-25 pence [US $0.34-0.38] per kWh.
The industry also uses government-set wave power feed-in tariffs (FITs) as benchmarks, said Derek Robertson, head of the U.S. operations of Wavebob, based in Ireland. Several European countries have FITs for wave power. Ireland, for one, is requiring utilities to pay 22 euro cents [US $ 0.29] per kWh, Robertson said.
Other countries, including the United Kingdom, Portugal and Spain, are offering FITs of up to US $0.34/kWh.
Israel-bases SDE claims that its systems could produce power for much less than those figures. In late April, the company completed construction of a 1-MW wave power plant off the coast of China, the first commercial project for the company, according to Inna Braverman, SDEs international marketing manager.
The project, located off the coast of Dong Ping in the Guangzhou Province, cost $650,000, to build, she said. The electricity generation cost would reach merely US $0.02 per kWh said Braverman, who declined to disclose the financial arrangements of the project or the materials used to build the equipment.
Our system is very simple and easy to implement and its fully automated, she said.
PG&E expects FERC to issue a license of its pilot project in California by June 2011, Morris said. Aside from FERC, several state agencies will get to review the project, including the Coastal Commission and the Department of Fish and Game.
Scrutiny wont only come from regulatory agencies. Already, the utility is facing opposition from local fishermen who want PG&E to compensate them for any loss of crab fishing gear and provide assurance that the waters around the wave farm would be safe to navigate. Crab pots, though weighed down, are known to drift and could become difficult to retrieve, said Kevin Pinto, a local fisherman.
The fishermen also question whether the pilot project would last longer than the proposed five years in order to generate a good return on the investment.
The area of concern is right in the middle of some heavily fished Dungeness crab ground, and we were quite concerned if the project is going to grow in length, Pinto said. The vessels that service the (wave energy converters) could run over the crab boats. Safety is our largest priority.
Ucilia Wang is a California-based freelance writer who covers renewable energy technologies and policies. She was the associate editor at Greentech Media.
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