A Clackamas company has been selected to build the first of 10 proposed ocean buoys planned for use in a wave energy project off the coast of Reedsport.
The electricity-generating system is being developed by Ocean Power Technologies, a New Jersey company that announced Friday it has selected Oregon Iron Works of Clackamas to begin construction of the first commercial wave energy PowerBuoy project in North America.
OPT said the partnership is the direct result of Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s leadership in bringing green jobs and renewable energy to Oregon and his commitment to seeing wave action employed as a commercially viable renewable energy resource.
The initial buoy would be used in the first phase of the project, with nine additional PowerBuoys added in the second phase over the next two to three years. Each of the buoys will have a 35-foot diameter and stand 145 feet tall. A majority of the buoy’s height would remain submerged in the water, with only about 30 feet visible above the surface.
The body of the buoy will be a metal column that remains stationary with a moving steel ring around it. As waves connect with the buoy, the ring will move up and down the tethered column, generating energy.
A transformer on the ocean floor will convert the energy and send it through a cable along the bottom of the ocean to the shore. The electricity will then connect to a grid and be purchased by utility groups that will distribute it to its customers.
OPT estimates the pilot project will deliver about 4,140 megawatt-hours of electricity to the grid each year — enough to power at least 375 homes — and has the potential to expand in the future. In addition, the electricity generated by the clean, renewable system will displace 2,110 tons of carbon dioxide each year, according to OPT.
The company estimates that 30 jobs will be created over the next nine months as the buoy is constructed.
Gov. Kulongoski was in Clackamas on Friday for the announcement of the selection of Oregon Iron Works.
“The partnership that we are developing with OPT and other Oregon companies fits perfectly with our goal of providing jobs for Oregon’s green economy,” Kulongoski said, according to a news release.
Mark Draper, chief executive officer of OPT, said the Oregon coast has been identified as one of the world’s top sources for future wave energy development.
“We are committed to responsible development of renewable energy resources, and look forward to playing our part in that positive future,” he said.
Another Oregon company, Sause Bros. of Coos Bay, will be used to transport and deploy the buoy by barge. PNGC Power, a regional public electric cooperative, may purchase some of the electricity generated to supply Northwest customers. The company has provided some of the funding for the project, along with the federal Department of Energy, federal and state tax credits, and investment by OPT and other firms.
OPT estimates 150 jobs overall will be created or sustained during the fabrication, assembly, installation and maintenance of the Reedsport station.
The company is in the advanced stages of completing a similar project scheduled for deployment off the coast of Scotland next year.
Oregon Iron Works Chairman Terry Aarnio said his company’s workers are excited at the opportunity to participate in the Reedsport system.
“This project demonstrates that Oregon intends to enhance its environmental reputation by building an economy on the edge of the green wave,” he said.
The Reedsport wave power station would be placed about 2.5 miles off the coast and connect to the Bonneville Power Administration’s Gardiner substation.
The project is still in the approval process.