OPT and Mitsui to steer wave device to possible Japan launch

Engineering and shipbuilding giant Mitsui has agreed a deal with US wave-energy developer Ocean Power Technology (OPT) to work on the latter's PowerBuoy device for deployment off Japan.

Under a ¥70 million ($900,000) contract, OPT will tailor the design of its buoy-shaped wave energy converter to conditions at several potential sites, teaming up with Mitsui engineers to improve power capture by using advanced optimisation methodologies as well as modelling and wave tank testing.

Joint analysis and design work is expected to be wrapped up by next April, after which a decision will be made on the next steps toward ocean trials of a demonstration PowerBuoy system as the basis for a commercial-scale OPT wave-power station in Japan.

“The analysis and design work that OPT is undertaking with Mitsui will feed into the decision we take on the size of the device,” OPT chief executive Charles Dunleavy tells Recharge. “Earmarking a site would come under the next phase of work.”

The Japanese government is looking to wave energy as a “key component” in its renewables strategy, with a goal set of generating 1.5GW using wave and tidal power sources by 2030.

OPT's PowerBuoy converts the rising and falling of waves into energy using mechanical stroking technology to drive an electrical generator, with power transmitted ashore via an underwater cable.

A PB150 has undergone testing off the northeast coast of Scotland, while a 40kW system that has been operating off Hawaii since December 2009 is now connected to the island's grid.

In July the company inked a deal with industrial conglomerate Lockheed Martin to develop a 19MW wave energy project in Portland, in the state of Victoria, Australia.

A flagship 150kW PB150 is now on track to be installed off the west coast of the US next spring as part of the 10-machine 1.5MW Reedsport OPT Wave Park.