Lockheed Martin has teamed up with Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) to develop one of the world’s largest wave energy generation projects. The 19-megawatt project to be located off the southern coast of Australia in Portland, Victoria, will be built around OPT’s PowerBuoy technology that has previously been trialed by the U.S. Navy off the coast of New Jersey for powering remote sea-based radar and communications systems.
The PowerBuoy is a completely autonomous device that generates electricity via a sub-surface piston-like structure that is moored to the ocean floor and an electrical generator is driven by the mechanical rise and fall of the surface buoy as it bobs up and down on the ocean waves. The electricity generated is transmitted back to shore via an underwater cable.
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The long-term agreement between the two companies will see Lockheed Martin assist OPT in the design and production of the PowerBuoy technology. The partnership agreement will also see Lockheed Martin assisting in marketing, supply, some component assembly and overall program management.
The two companies have previously collaborated on a number of projects, including the aforementioned New Jersey trial for the U.S. Navy and a utility-scale project proposed for Coos Bay, Oregon, which would consist of up to 200 PowerBuoys and produce up to 100 megawatts, making it the largest wave energy project in the world when completed.
The Victorian project will be partly funded by a AUD$66.5 million (approx. US$67.6 million) grant from Australia’s Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism awarded to OPT. The 19-megawatt project will comprise 45 PowerBuoys and five Undersea Substation Pods. It is expected to fulfill the energy needs of around 10,000 homes, with the potential for the project to be scaled up to 100 megawatts.
The animation below shows how the PowerBuoy works.