Ocean energy can play important role in renewable resources mix

June 25, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Ocean Energy

Renewable technologies could supply the world with more energy than it would ever need and at a very competitive cost, avers Steve Sawyer, secretary-general of the Global Wind Energy Council.

He adds that ocean energy may play a very important role in the future. Ocean energy derives from the potential, kinetic, thermal and chemical energy of seawater, which can be transformed to provide electricity, thermal energy or potable water.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published recently, several technologies are possible, such as submarine turbines for tidal and ocean currents, heat exchangers for ocean thermal energy conversion, and a variety of devices to harness the energy of waves and salinity gradients.

Ocean technologies, with the exception of tidal barrages, are at the demonstration and pilot project phases and many require additional research and development. Some of the technologies have variable energy output profiles with differing levels of predictability (for instance, wave, tidal range and current), while others may be capable of near-constant or even controllable operation (for instance, ocean thermal and salinity gradient).

Tidal Power Plant in Northern Ireland
Sabine Sauter writes in Pictures of the Future about “tapping invisible rivers”.  Tidal flows represent a largely untapped source of clean energy.

Located off the coast of Northern Ireland, the world’s first commercial tidal current power plant is producing electricity for 1 500 household using energy generated by high and low tides. The Strangford Lough plant is operated by Marine Current Turbines, a British company in which Siemens acquired a 10% interest in 2010. The facility is similar to a wind turbine, the only difference being that it is driven by water instead of air. Each of its two drivetrains weighs 27 t and is equipped with a rotor 16 m in diameter.

The rotor blades can be turned through 180º, which means they can produce electricity for up to 20 hours a day regardless of whether the tide is coming in or going out.

The tower to which the two propeller turbines are attached through a cross member has a diameter of 3 m. Depending on the tide, the tower can protrude as much as 20 m above the sea. The rotors cannot be seen above the water – and it is even possible to take a small boat directly past the turbine because the rotors are located at least 3 m below the surface.

Although extensive installation costs make an investment in tidal current power plants around twice as high as those for offshore wind power facilities, the resulting electricity offers several benefits. For example, the energy density of water is 800 times higher than that of wind, which makes gene- rating electricity with water much more efficient. A 1,2 MW tidal plant like the one at Strangford Lough can produce as much electricity in a year as a 2,5 MW offshore wind turbine. The electricity yield from tidal facilities is also more precisely calculatable, which enhances planning security. After all, tidal currents are determined by the moon and the earth’s gravity, so they are not dependent on the weather and can be predicted years in advance.

The International Energy Agency estimates the global output potential of tidal power plants to be as high as 800 TWh/y, which is enough to supply 250-million households with electricity.

Marine Current Turbines continues to invest in tidal technologies. Besides other things, the company plans to start building a tidal turbine park near the Isle of Skye, in north-eastern Scotland, in 2013.

When it is complete, the facility will supply up to 4 000 households with electricity from the sea.

Article source: http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/ocean-energy-can-play-important-role-in-renewable-resources-mix-2011-06-24

Ocean Energy on the Verge of Rapid Growth?

January 6, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Ocean Energy

Is the global ocean energy industry at a turning point? With all the attention focused on energy efficiency and smart grid, and with more mature renewable sectors like wind struggling, we haven’t heard much about ocean energy in the last year or two.

Financing is tight and venture capital is extra-cautious as the world struggles to get through this tough recession. It’s not the best time for a new industry to gain footing.

High initial costs and long development lead times makes the industry dependent on government support. Ocean energy has received much less support than solar or wind, but that could change. Costs are high because prototypes must stand up to ocean storms, and in the U.S. they must navigate a confusion of overlapping offshore permitting authorities.

After only a dozen wave and tidal prototypes were installed in 2009, more than 45 projects will have been tested in 2010 and 2011, according to IHS Emerging Energy Research. If these prototypes are successful, IHS believes the global ocean energy project pipeline is poised to begin scaling. They estimate that more than 1.8 GW of ocean projects in 16 countries are currently in the pipeline.

Ocean Energy

Could Ocean Energy be Problematic for Marine Life?

But concerns are surfacing that the electro-magnetic fields created by tide and wave generators (and the cables that bring their electricity to shore) could interfere with the natural guidance systems used by marine life.

Salmon, sharks, sea turtles, lobsters and crabs are among the marine life that use internal compasses that rely on the Earth’s magnetic fields. They travel thousand of miles each year using the earth’s magnetic fields to navigate. Ocean energy machines might also produce a low hum that could interfere with communication among whales. It’s long been known that the use of military sonar poses a deadly threat to whales, many of which have been found dead or dying following massive sonic blasts.

Research hasn’t been done on how these power devices affect the marine environment.

Promise for Energy Supply

The Northwest Power Planning Council estimates ocean energy could eventually supply 10% of US energy, with 50,000 MW off the Northwest coast, equal to the output of 50 nuclear plants.

Other sites under consideration are off the coast of Maine, Hawaii, Alaska, Florida and in the Mississippi River near Baton Rouge.

Thanks to government policy support, the UK holds the lead in ocean energy - 300 MW of projects are in the pipeline to be installed over the next five years. The UK wants to add 1.3 GW by 2020 to help meet its legally binding 2020 renewable targets. Ireland, France, Portugal, South Korea and Australia are also key ocean energy markets and will remain the industry’s primary focus for the next decade, according to IHS.

And it’s not just tiny, start-ups that are pushing the field forward. A slew of established energy firms, including leading European utilities and global technology suppliers with hydro and offshore wind experience, are interested in establishing leadership positions.

Of the various forms of ocean energy, tidal energy is poised to mature first because it offers the promise of predictable, lower-cost electricity and a standard design.

“The strong synergies between tidal turbine manufacturing and the hydropower industry have attracted major power sector OEMs,” says IHS Senior Renewable Power Analyst Marianne Boust. “Over the past two years, all three of the major hydropower turbine vendors - Andritz Hydro, Alstom Hydro, and Voith Hydro - who account for over 80 percent of the global hydro turbine supply, have jumped into the tidal sector.”

Because these large hydro players see tidal energy as a synergistic growth opportunity, they are crucial to catalyzing quick development and commercialization of the tidal industry. They could help the ocean energy industry overcome its technological challenges and drive down costs.

Key companies that are active in scaling Europe’s offshore wind industry are also eyeing ocean energy as they scale their renewable portfolios. Iberdrola-ScottishPower, Vattenfall, RWE and SSE all have a strong presence in offshore wind. Each is broadening to include ocean energy. A few have taken equity stakes in ocean technology firms, but most are funding project development through joint ventures.

Ocean Power Technologies Leads

The only pure-play publicly traded company in ocean energy is Ocean Power Technologies (OPTT), which is developing the first commercial scale wave energy system in the US off the coast of Oregon. The 1.5MW wave energy system, which will power about 1000 homes, is expected to be deployed in 2011.

In September, OPTT received $4.8 million in funding from the US Department of Energy, on top of $2 million it received in 2008. They are using the funds to construct the Oregon project and to develop its next generation 500kW system, which will have greater power extraction efficiency. The company is also focused on implementing a “Design-for-Manufacture” approach and reducing maintenance costs, to achieve lower installed capital and energy costs and make wave power more competitive with fossil fuels.

Also in September, OPTT connected a wave energy device to the US grid for the first time at the US Navy’s Marine Corps Base in Hawaii. The connection demonstrates the ability of wave systems to produce utility-grade, renewable energy that can be transmitted to the grid.

The Navy has supported Ocean Power’s technology development through its $15 million Littoral Expeditionary Autonomous PowerBuoy (LEAP) program. OPTT is providing an autonomous wave energy conversion system for the Navy’s near-coast anti-terrorism and maritime surveillance program.

OPTT is also working with Mitsui Engineering Shipbuilding Co to apply its technology off the coast of Japan. In October 2009, a Japanese consortium signed a MOU to develop wave energy in Japan.


The IHS study, Global Ocean Energy Markets and Strategies: 2010-2030, analyzes the various ocean technologies and companies and the potential size and timing for ocean energy scaling.

Source: Sustainable Business

Article source: http://uk.ibtimes.com/articles/20110105/ocean-energy-verge-rapid-growth.htm

OPTT Ocean Power Technologies among “Stocks to watch at NASDAQ”

January 2, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Ocean Energy

Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. (Public,NASDAQ:OPTT) decreased -6.72%, to close at $5.69 and its overall traded volume was 128,998.00 shares during the last session against its average volume of 47,290.00. OPTT opened the day at $6.03, it made an intraday low of $5.69 and an intraday high of $6.03. The stock has a 52 week low of $4.55 and 52 week high of $9.67. OPTTs market capitalization is 59.28M and it has 10.42M outstanding shares.

About Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. (Public,NASDAQ:OPTT)

Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. develops and is commercializing systems that generate electricity by harnessing the renewable energy of ocean waves. The Company markets and sells its products in the United States and internationally. It offers two products as part of its line of PowerBuoy systems: a utility PowerBuoy system and an autonomous PowerBuoy system. Its autonomous PowerBuoy system is designed to generate power for use independent of the power grid in remote locations. The Companys customer base for its utility PowerBuoy systems consists of public utilities, independent power producers and other governmental entities and agencies. Its customer base for its autonomous PowerBuoy systems consists of different public and private entities that use electricity in and near the ocean.

(article edited/adapted from its entirety that can be read at the link below.)

Article source: http://www.savvystockpicks.com/stock-updates/2010124700-optt-sbny-best-gtls-ntsp-stocks-to-watch-at-nasdaq/

Plumbing the oceans could bring limitless clean energy

November 27, 2008 by admin  
Filed under Secrets of the Ocean

by Phil McKenna

For a company whose business is rocket science Lockheed Martin has been paying unusual attention to plumbing of late. The aerospace giant has kept its engineers occupied for the past 12 months poring over designs for what amounts to a very long fibreglass pipe.

It is, of course, no ordinary pipe but an integral part of the technology behind Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), a clean, renewable energy source that has the potential to free many economies from their dependence on oil.

“This has the potential to become the biggest source of renewable energy in the world,” says Robert Cohen, who headed the US federal ocean thermal energy programme in the early 1970s.

This has the potential to become the biggest source of renewable energy in the world

As the price of fossil fuels soars, private companies from Hawaii to Japan are racing to build commercial OTEC plants. The trick is to exploit the difference in temperature between seawater near the surface and deep down (see diagram).

First, warm surface water heats a fluid with a low boiling point, such as ammonia or a mixture of ammonia and water. When this “working fluid” boils, the resulting gas creates enough pressure to drive a turbine that generates power. The gas is then cooled by passing it through cold water pumped up from the ocean depths via massive fibreglass tubes, perhaps 1000 metres long and 27 metres in diameter, that suck up cold water at a rate of 1000 tonnes per second. While the gas condenses back into a liquid that can be used again, the water is returned to the deep ocean. “It’s just like a conventional power plant where you burn a fuel like coal to create steam,” says Cohen.

Limitless Clean Energy from the Ocean

Limitless Clean Energy from the Ocean

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