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US navy ceremony for Irish wave energy convertor OE35 Buoy at Pearl Harbor

A traditional Hawaiian blessing greeted the arrival of Irish marine hydrokinetic company Ocean Energy’s OE35 Buoywave energy device at the U.S. Navy’s Ford Island wharf on the island of O‘ahu.

Towed by the Ocean Ranger, the 826-ton Irish buoy completed its 2,300-nautical- mile journey across the Pacific Ocean in six weeks.  Following post-tow remediation work on the device, it will be deployed to the Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kāneʻohe Bay on the Windward side of O‘ahu. Once commissioned at the WETS site, the buoy will be connected to Hawaiian Electric’s grid – a first for the United States and a first globally for a device of its type.

The three-story-tall OE35 Buoy measures 125 x 59 feet with a draft of over 30 feet and a rated potential capacity up to 1.25 MW of electrical power production.  It generates electricity by converting the constant undulation of the floating hull into compressed air, which turns a one-of-a-kind turbine specially built by project partner, Siemens.  Housed above the waterline on the deck of the buoy, Siemens’ unique power takeoff system is the renewable energy device’s only moving part.  An explanatory animation of this unique hydrokinetic technology may be viewed here.

At today’s event, Ocean Energy’s chief executive officer, John McCarthy, said: “Over the coming months, the OE35 Buoywill reach a key milestone – turning the Pacific’s wave power to clean energy for the people of Hawaii and opening a brand new chapter in global renewable energy.”

Each deployed commercial device has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 3,600[1] tons annually, which for a utility-scale wave farm of 100 MW could amount to a reduction of over 180,000 tons of CO2 in a full year.  It is estimated that a 100 MW wave energy farm could power up to 18,750[2] American homes.

The United States has a substantial wave energy resource off its coasts, which could deliver up to 15 percent[3] of the nation’s annual electricity demand.  The potential of wave energy is even significant for Ireland’s small island economy, where it has a market potential of over $18 billion[4] by 2050.

Commenting on behalf of Siemens, Balbino Arevalo, the engineering company’s product line manager, said “Ocean Energy’s achievement advances Siemens’ commercialization efforts for HydroAirTM in markets throughout the world. This represents another great step on the path towards helping our customers realize emission reduction goals and advantageously position themselves in Energy Transition.”

The $12 million project is part-funded by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, under an agreement committing the American and Irish governments to collaborating on Marine Hydrokinetic Technologies.

[1] Extrapolated calculation by Ocean Energy USA LLC based on authoritative published research

[2] Extrapolated calculation by Ocean Energy USA LLC based on authoritative published researc

[3] The Future Potential of Wave Power in the United States. Prepared by RE Vision Consulting on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy August 2012. http://www.revision.net/documents/The%20Future%20of%20Wave%20Power%20MP%209-2012%20V2.pdf

[4] SEAI, Ireland – Smart Ocean: https://www.smartocean.ie/content/seai-announces-total-grant-award%E2%82%AC43m-15-marine-energy-projects

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