2009年12月5日土曜日

Oregon Iron Works will build first buoy for wave farm off Reedsport

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http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2009/12/oregonians_build_wave_energy_b.html


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Oregon Iron Works will build first buoy for wave farm off Reedsport

By Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian

December 04, 2009, 6:19PM
 Power Buoys1.JPGCourtesy of Ocean Power TechnologiesAs part of a U.S. Navy project, Ocean Power Technologies installed one of its PowerBuoys 75 miles off the coast of New Jersey. The company has also installed test buoys under contract with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to demonstrate their ability to capture wave energy and convert it to electricty.A New Jersey firm has hired Oregon Iron Works to build the first of 10 wave energy buoys that it will begin installing off the Oregon coast next year in the country's first commercial-scale wave energy farm.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski joined executives of New Jersey-based Ocean Power Technologies at Oregon Iron Works in Clackamas on Friday to celebrate the signing of a manufacturing contract for the first electricity-producing buoy, which will be moored off Reedsport by the end of 2010.

Oregon Iron Works will start work in the coming weeks on the massive and mechanically sophisticated cylindrical structure -- 150 feet tall and 40 feet in diameter -- at its hangar-size fabrication bays in Clackamas.

The company estimates construction would initially create or sustain about 30 jobs, and that an additional nine buoys -- if that contract comes its way -- would create about 150 jobs in manufacturing, assembly and maintenance of the "wave energy farm.

Kulongoski called the project a great investment for Oregon.

"This announcement is a good example of how an existing Oregon company can plug into our growing green economy," he said. The hard hatted crowd of workers in the back of the room, he noted, "are the producers of the product we're going to put out in the ocean."

Once the pieces of the first buoy are fabricated, they'll be shipped by barge to Reedsport for assembly, then tethered to the ocean floor 2 1/2 miles off the coast.

Power Buoyconstruction.JPGCourtesy of Ocean Power TechnologiesOne of Ocean Power Technologies’ PowerBuoys sits dockside in Spain, where the company is developing a 1.39 megawatt wave farm. The buoys manufactured and installed in Oregon will have almost four times the generating capacity of those in Spain, and will stand some 150 feet tall.Offshore waves move a float on the buoy up and down a central spar, driving an electrical generator. The power will be transmitted to shore via an underwater power cable.

Ocean Power Technologies, or OPT, has installed test buoys off the coasts of New Jersey and Hawaii and is developing a wave farm in Spain. It says the Reedsport project, which it hopes to complete in 2012, will be the first commercial-scale wave farm in the United States. The ten buoys would have a capacity of 1.5 megawatts, and generate enough electricity to power about 750 homes.

For now, it's not cheap power.

Philip Pellegrino, the company's vice president of business development, said the company hopes to bring the installed cost per megawatt into the $4 million range -- about double the price of wind farms in Oregon. The price is much higher today, however, and the project is being heavily supported by taxpayers and ratepayers.

The project cost for the first 150 kilowatt buoy and the electrical infrastructure to serve the wave farm will be about $5.5 million. OPT has applied for a business energy tax credit from Oregon that would be worth up to 50 percent of the project cost. The Oregon Wave Energy Trust also awarded OPT $200,000 in a program that matches permitting and development expenses, and performed research studies that benefited the project, according to the governor's office.

PNGC Power, the regional electrical cooperative based in Portland, also provided $500,000 in funding for phase one of the project and has the right to purchase some of its output.

"The first hand held calculator and the first microprocessor were more expensive when they first came out," said Pellegrino. "This is an immature technology. It takes awhile to crank up and establish scale."

Wave energy is also controversial among fishermen and crabbers, who worry about the impact that large scale buoy arrays might have on their livelihoods.

"I think what this project will demonstrate is that any impact on crabbing will be" too small to be concerned with, said Pellegrino. "But you have to build the house one brick at a time."

Tad Hefflin, a mechanic at Oregon Iron Works, said the project would be a challenge, and that his co-workers will take enormous pride in their pioneering product being installed close to home.

"It's something no one else has built, but I have complete confidence we can do it right," he said. "It's something you can talk about to your kids. ... Maybe I'll take a day off and go watch it go in the water."

Ted Sickinger: 503-221-8505

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