Ocean wave energy project abandoned due to costs

Ocean Power Technology built a 26-ton buoy that was supposed to create electric from ocean waves for Oregonians much like this buoy the company deployed in Scotland, April 28, 2014. (Ocean Power Technology)
Ocean Power Technology built a 26-ton buoy that was supposed to create electric from ocean waves for Oregonians much like this buoy the company deployed in Scotland, April 28, 2014. (Ocean Power Technology)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The company behind a project meant to harness the ocean’s energy to create electricity for Oregon has backed out after an expensive setback.

Ocean Power Technology built a 26-ton buoy, which is lodged at Vigor Shipyards on Swan Island, that was supposed to create electric from ocean waves for Oregonians much like a buoy the company deployed in Scotland.

The company decided to abandon the buoy project in Oregon after nearly $9 million dollars of mostly federal government funds were spent on it partly because they could not afford to finish it. Instead, the company is moving its work to Australia, which gave them $62 million for the same project.

However, KOIN 6 News’ Ken Boddie learned Oregon is out $430,000 in lottery funds for Ocean Power Technology’s abandoned project.

Oregon Wave Energy Trust Executive Director Jason Busch said he believes many people in Oregon are in agreement that money is being best spent on technology that is still rather new and untested.

Oregon Wave Energy Trust, a non-profit group, has received $12 million from the state since 2008 to promote and develop ocean-based wave energy, Busch said.

While Busch said he is disappointed that the buoy never made it to the ocean, he says the project was not a complete bust.

According to Busch, Oregon learned about ocean wave technology and could make the state a leader in the industry – an industry that could help provide future power needs along with hydro, wind and solar.

The governor’s ten-year energy action plan also supports the new form of energy, stating, “…wave energy has significant potential not only to provide additional resources to power Oregon, but to create a business cluster and models that can be exported to other states and countries around the world.”

“We’re not trying to catch up with these other sources of generation. This is a brand new way of doing it,” said Busch.

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