Pennington, N.J.-based Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. has completed the first-ever grid connection of a wave energy device in the United States at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii in conjunction with the U.S. Navy. This connection demonstrates the ability of OPT's PowerBuoy systems to produce utility-grade, renewable energy that can be transmitted to the grid in a manner fully compliant with national and international standards.

The PB40 PowerBuoy is part of OPT’s ongoing program with the U.S. Navy to develop and test the company’s PowerBuoy wave energy technology. The project began as a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program at the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Key program goals include demonstrating system reliability and survivability, and the successful interconnection with the grid serving MCBH.

The PowerBuoy was deployed on December 14, 2009, approximately three-quarters of a mile off the coast of Oahu in water depth of 100 ft. To date, the PowerBuoy has operated and produced power from over 3 million power take-off cycles and 4,400 hours of operation. The PowerBuoy grid interface was certified in 2007 by an independent laboratory, Intertek Testing Services, as compliant with national and international standards, including the safety standards UL1741 and IEEE1547, and also bears the ETL-listed mark.

The system has numerous on-board sensors that monitor a wide variety of system performance variables, external conditions and lifecycle parameters. Data collected by on-board computers is transmitted to a shore-based facility via a fiber-optic cable embedded in the submarine power transmission cable and then transmitted via the Internet to OPT’s facility in Pennington, N.J. The company’s engineers have collated much of this data and compared it to OPT’s proprietary models which analyze the performance given actual in-coming wave conditions. This information has provided a strong correlation between the ‘actual’ and ‘expected’ system performance, which serves to confirm OPT’s models for its higher output PowerBuoys, including the PB150.

The wave power project at MCBH underwent an extensive environmental assessment by an independent environmental firm in accordance with the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) that resulted in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The FONSI is the highest rating assigned. The project has utilized local Hawaiian subcontractors, including Sea Engineering Inc. for the installation, test and servicing of the systems.

“OPT has been ocean-testing its technology in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans for several years," says Charles F. Dunleavy, CEO of OPT. "Our engineers and marine operations personnel have worked hard to bring about this success. Grid connection is another significant milestone in demonstrating the potential for commercial status of our PowerBuoy technology. We thank the U.S. Navy and the Naval Facilities group for supporting this project as we move nearer to achieving their goals for the program. We are pleased to be a part of the renewable energy initiatives undertaken by the commander of Marine Corps Base Hawaii.”