Safely harnessing wave energy

Ocean Power Technologies’ plan to harness wave power for energy includes a device to steer whales clear of the dangerous equipment.

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A wave energy buoy developed by Ocean Power Technologies will include an acoustic device to repel whales.

The floating device has cables that could cause serious damage to grey whales, so University of Oregon scientists have developed a prototype to be installed on the company’s first device, which should be launched this year.

“The largest concern with wave energy is blunt trauma to gray whales,” said Dr. Bruce Mate, director of the Marine Mammal Institute. “The underwater cables from these buoys are four to six inches in diameter. They don’t give. When an animal is traveling in the water at three or four miles per hour, there’s the potential to cause serious damage.”

According to George Wolf, a principal with Ocean Power Technologies, his company expects to have the first of 10 wave energy-generating buoys in the water by the end of this year. The project, once completed, will generate 1.5 megawatts of electricity for Douglas County.

Read the whole story at the Daily Journal of Commerce.

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