Wave energy conversion company closes deal at US Navy wave energy test site in Hawaii

At the end of January, Ireland-based Ocean Energy announced its pioneering wave energy convertor OE Buoy will be built by Portland-based Vigor Industrial shipbuilding and repair.

The buoy will be deployed at the U.S. Navy's Wave Energy Test Site on the windward coast of O'ahu, Hawaii.PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: FILE PHOTO - The Vigorous (seen here) is the largest floating drydock in the United States and is a big part of Vigor Industrials success.

Wave energy has a market potential of adding more than $18 billion to Ireland's economy by 2050. The U.S. also has a substantial wave energy resource that could deliver up to 15 percent of its annual electricity demand. In Oregon, the estimated potential value to the local economy is $2.4 billion per year, with an associated 13,630 jobs, according to the Ocean Wave Energy Trust.

The $12 million project is partly funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), under an agreement committing the American and Irish governments to collaborating on Marine Hydrokinetic Technologies.

The pioneering buoy design includes sustainability features. The 826-ton OE Buoy measures 125 by 59 feet with a draft of 31 feet, and has a potential rated capacity of up to 1.25 MW in electrical power production. Each deployed commercial device could reduce CO2 emissions by more than 3,6005 tons annually, which for a utility-scale wave farm of 100 MW could amount to over 180,000 tons of CO2 in a full year. On average, a 100 MW wave farm can power up to 18,7506 American homes.

"We are thrilled to be participating in this project with Ocean Energy toward the ongoing goal of a cleaner energy future for our planet," said Frank Foti, Vigor CEO. "This project represents a solid step forward in developing a commercially viable product to help move us in that critical direction."

Ocean Energy is a portfolio company of Enterprise Ireland, the Irish government agency for the advancement of innovation, entrepreneurship and international business by Irish firms. The organization provides important strategic and consultative support to Irish businesses and is also Europe's third-largest venture capital firm by deal-count.

Enterprise Ireland is the Irish State agency that works with Irish enterprises to help them start, grow, innovate and win export sales in global markets. Enterprise Ireland partners with entrepreneurs, Irish businesses, and the research and investment communities to develop Ireland's international trade, innovation, leadership and competitiveness.

"With rigorous testing and scaling of OE Buoy over the past 10 years, today's announcement of the device being built in Oregon represents a truly major milestone for Ocean Energy," said John McCarthy, CEO of Ocean Energy USA. "It's the combination of Irish innovation and American manufacturing expertise and that's always going to produce a world-class result. We are delighted to be partnering with Vigor, a renowned U.S. marine and industrial fabrication company, who have a track record of delivering cutting edge engineering projects. This internationally significant project will be invaluable to job creation, renewable energy generation and greenhouse gas reduction."

Vigor is an innovator in complex fabrication, a specialized shipbuilder and a ship repair powerhouse with approximately 2,300 employees and eight locations in Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

By Jules Rogers
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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