LOCE Wind and Wave Energy Weblog

The web's first ocean and offshore wind energy weblog. Continuously renewed, like the ocean itself.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Energy Bill Passes, Includes Ocean!

As this Press Release reports, the Energy Bill passed by the Senate July 29, 2005 and due to be signed by the President August 8, 2005, provides ocean renewable energy recognition and benefits. Visit the Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition Website for details.

Canadian Ocean Group to Sponsor Symposium

The Ocean Renewable Energy Group will be holding a
Symposium this October 2005. As described at the OREG site, the symposium will:

The OREG Symposium 2005 will be a forum of provocative presentations and over four hours of facilitated discussion. Participants will help to draft a sector business plan in an effort to coordinate technology, business, regulatory and policy development to ensure that Canada catches the European lead.

Visit this link for more details.

US Export Bank to Support Ocean Renewables

Here's a link to a press release entitled SUPPORT U.S. EXPORTS FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY AND WATER PROJECTS (July 12, 2005) that reports that the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) is now offering export financing on repayment terms of up to 15 years for U.S. exports of goods and services to be used in certain renewable energy and water projects. Effective as of July 1, the longer repayment terms are available in accord with an agreement of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that permits export credit agencies of OECD countries to offer enhanced terms for renewable energy and water projects. Eligible for the 15-year repayment term are U.S. exports for the following renewable energy projects: wind, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, geothermal, ocean thermal, tidal and tidal stream power, wave power, and bio-energy.

Perhaps this new loan policy will help US developers of ocean technology to export their products abroad.

Verdant Gets Some Relief from FERC Licensing Requirements

Ever since FERC asserted jurisdiction over ocean projects, there's been concerns about the difficulties that a small ocean developer faces in navigating a licensing process originally intended for behemoth hydro projects. But there's some relief available, albeit limited, as reported in

FERC OK's Testing New Kinetic Hydropower Plant in New York City's East River
, Renewable Energy Access (7/29/05). According to a press release by OREC,
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), granted Verdant Power, LLC's request to clarify that they do not require a license to deploy, on a short term (18 months), experimental basis, six 36 kW tidal power turbine units that will temporarily supply power to two customers on New York City's Roosevelt Island, at no cost. Verdant had argued that it needed to install projects and connect them to actual customers to study and evaluate how they would operate in real world conditions. Verdant will use the results of its second 18- month study to enable them to complete its application for a FERC license...

As the Verdant case demonstrated, FERC's strict license requirement created a "catch-22" for developers of emerging kinetic hydropower technologies, who often need to install their projects to study and evaluate their efficiency and impacts, in order to complete a license application. By allowing tidal and wave developers to move forward with experimental projects, without obtaining a full license, FERC's order will facilitate collection of data that can help FERC make a reasoned decision on whether or not to grant licenses.

In a separate concurrence, Commissioner Kelly recognized that the Federal Power Act's licensing requirements were never intended to apply to experimental projects. Kelly explained:

"Verdant Power's project is experimental and the facilities are to be utilized for a short period of time for conducting studies necessary to prepare a license application. Second, the very nature of Verdant's project is one that requires a 'jump start' from the grid, in order to be tested...the potential for displacement of grid power is a necessary consequence for demonstration."

An Interview With OPD CEO, Richard Yemm

This article, Yemm makes waves in the energy sector (Sunday Herald, 7/05) interviews the founder and CEO of Ocean Power Delivery , a leading wave energy company in Scotland that developed the Pelamis. Here's an excerpt about Yemm's success:

The chief executive and founder of Ocean Power Delivery is at the forefront of the marine-renewables sector in the UK and, by extension, the world. He has a £6m contract under his belt to supply wave energy-generating machines to a wave farm in Portugal and is negotiating to establish Scotland’s first commercial wave farm. But he has a well honed sense of how fragile the nascent marine device industry is.

As a former engineer in the wind turbine industry, he knows Scotland and the UK could easily find itself starting out as a market and technology leader but end up playing economically devastating catch-up.

Yemm built Ocean Power Delivery on fees earned by his invention of a device to stop wind turbines from suffering a particular kind of vibration damage, but he was drawn to wave power. “People were saying, ‘After you’ve had a few beers you’re always talking about how much better wave power would be than wind in the long run, so put your money where your mouth is and go and do it,’” recalls Yemm. In 1998 he did, founding OPD.

Yemm has a distinctly entrepreneurial approach to his company's technology, quite different from others in the industry who in the past, have been more science-oriented:

“It’s all very well making a brilliant machine that can turn waves into energy but if you can’t turn it into a business it’s got no future.”

He lists as his proudest achievements not the day he built the vibration-dampening device which funded all subsequent ventures, nor the day an OPD prototype hit the water, but the first time he raised venture capital funding and the company’s first actual sale.

“The biggest single achievement has to be selling something. Securing our first sales contract really has been the pinnacle,” he says.

It is exactly this that sets OPD apart. There are a handful of very different wave generators in development across the UK but it is the £6m contract with Portuguese developer Enersis and the venture capital funding raised that mark OPD out as the most advanced contender.

Ocean developers need to realize that ocean renewables aren't just a cause, but a business. If developers can't sell their ideas well enough to attract investment, then no matter how brilliant the concept, it may never see the light of day - or in this case, the bottom of the ocean.

Ocean Power Advances in New Jersey

This article from the Bergen County news,
N.J. firm harnessing energy of the ocean
(7/21/05) reports on progress by Ocean Power Technologies, and its impending deplyment of an electric generating test buoy off the coast of New Jersey. According to the article, the company will test their buoy system in hopes of proving the feasibility of a wave energy farm off the New Jersey coast. In addition to the New Jersey project, OPT has a deal to develop a wave energy system off the coast of Spain.

Wave Energy Coming to China

This article,
Chinese scientists upgrade first experimental wave power station
(7/25/05) reports on a typhoon resistant and more efficient wave power technology developed by Chinese scientists. According to the article:

You Yage, chief scientist for the Ocean Energy Division at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, led his team to introduce vibrating technologies into a newly-invented electricity generator, the Economic Daily reported Thursday.

"The new kind of generator is more efficient, lower-cost and typhoon-resistant," You was quoted as saying by the newspaper on Thursday. He said that the six-kw generator worked well after more than 20 typhoons.

The testing equipment can be used for electricity for light, computers, air conditioners and sea water desalination, the scientist said.

You and his team early this year developed the world's first experimental wave power station at sea near Shanwei City, in south China's Guangdong Province.

British and Portuguese scientists have researched wave power stations, but they have failed to reach technical expectations.

"Although ubiquitous at sea," You said, "wave power is one of the most unstable forms we can find on the earth."

You's team devised an energy-storage manostat, a device that can effectively transfer wave power to energy resulting from hydraulic pressure.