Sian Crampsie

Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) says it is one step closer to the commercial launch of its wave energy converter technology after deploying the latest design off the coast of New Jersey, USA.

The commercial PB3 PowerBuoy device has been installed 7 km from the coast in what was called “a major milestone” in OPT’s commercialization strategy.

“This deployment of our PB3 represents what we expect will be the final validation step prior to release of the product to our target customers and markets,” said George H. Kirby, President and CEO of OPT. “We believe that our commercial PB3 PowerBuoy will position us to competitively address applications in our target markets such as ocean observing, oil and gas, security and defense, and communications.”

The PB3 unit includes several design enhancements over earlier prototypes, including a redesigned power take-off, a high-capacity, modular energy storage system providing flexibility through expanded battery capacity, a higher voltage and efficient power management and distribution system, and a new auto-ballasting system which, OPT believes, will enable faster and less costly deployment.

According to OPT, the energy storage system will enable the storage of excess energy in low ocean wave conditions. “We have designed our commercial PB3 PowerBuoy with improvements in manufacturing, maintenance, and deployment over our prior iterations of the PowerBuoy, and we believe these may allow us to be cost-competitive as a power and communications platform for remote, offshore autonomous applications,” said Dr. Mike Mekhiche, OPT’s VP of Engineering.

“For instance, we expect that our new auto-ballasting system could reduce the cost, improve safety, and simplify logistics of deployments. We believe that all of these improvements will help to solidify our value proposition to potential customers,” added Mekhiche.

The PB3 PowerBuoy has been installed alongside an existing PowerBuoy prototype. “The data stream from the two PowerBuoys, combined with our previously announced and on-going accelerated life testing, will allow us to share a variety of performance information with current and prospective partners and customers,” said Mekhiche.