Ocean Power Technologies is a step closer today to building the country&’s first utility-scale wave power project in Oregon.
The Pennington, N.J.,-based company announced that it had signed a settlement agreement with 11 federal and state agencies and three non-governmental stakeholders regarding the development of a 1.5-megawatt wave energy station at Reedsport, Oregon. The station will use ten Ocean Power Technologies’ PB150 PowerBuoys, which are currently under construction at Oregon Iron Works. The company’s stock (NASDAQ:OPTT) was up 3.2 percent to $5.48 at 3 p.m. EST.The settlement agreement comes after discussions among the various stakeholders about the environmental impacts of the PowerBuoys on the marine environment and on the local crabbing and fishing industry.
Past studies on the effects of offshore wind turbine platforms and wave power foundations have found that the hard surfaces can actually benefit marine life.
Ocean Power Technology Executive Chairman Dr. George W. Taylor praised Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski for shepherding the agreement to completion and working with the company to address environmental issues before they became problems:
This agreement demonstrates OPT’s commitment to develop wave power in a way that respects the environment and the needs of all who rely on ocean resources for many different uses. It shows how the private sector can work together effectively with federal, state, municipal and local groups to attain important common goals of sustainable development.
The buoys function by using the rocking motion of waves to move a piston-like device, which generates electricity. The buoys then send the electricity, via an underwater substation pod to the onshore grid. The PowerBuoy PB150 will also be deployed at the European Marine Energy Center in the Orkney Isles, Scotland later this year.
Less than a year ago, the company was more of a research and development operation, with a considerable cash burn rate. The cash burn rate has decreased but the company recently posted a net loss of $19.2 million for the year that ended April 30 — slightly higher than last year. Still, the company’s project pipeline is looking more robust and it has put itself in a position to get a piece of the growing wave market, which could equal 1 gigawatt, or about $500 million in the next five or six years.
The company, which overcame the abrupt resignation of then-Chief Executive Officer Mark Draper in January, also has a 1.39-MW project off Spain’s Atlantic coast and is working a 20-MW project near Cornwall, England. It also landed $60 million from the Australian government in November for a 19-MW project in the Indian Ocean.