The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

While Finavera's Buoy Sinks, Hopes of Harnessing Ocean Energy Survive

Just hours before its scheduled removal, AquaBuOY 2.0 has sunk.

Finavera Renewable's 72-foot high wave energy test buoy went down in about 115 feet of water on Oct. 27, just one day before it was to be removed from its location in the waters off of Lincoln County, a part of the Central Oregon Coast. The device had been deployed on September 6.

While company officials say they don't know exactly why it sunk, Finavera Renewable's spokesman Mike Clark said, "It seems to have something to do with the float section of the device." He said the buoy began taking on water and the bilge pump "couldn't keep up with the amount of water it was taking on." The pump failed and the device went down. "We're pretty sure it didn't have anything to do with the power-generating technology," Clark said.

Both Clark and Finavera's Portland-based VP for Business Development, Kevin Bannister, do not believe foul play was involved; saying that the company has excellent relations with local officials and the fishing community.

Hugh Link, the interim administrator for the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission agrees that the relationship between Finavera and the fishing industry is good.  "We have a really good working relationship with Finavera. They have such a great relationship with the Newport fleet in Lincoln County - everybody feels bad that this happened for them."

Link added, "They want to do the right thing and get it out. "

Wayne Belmont, Lincoln County's attorney, said he'd like the device out "as soon as possible, but we live on the coast and we also recognize that winter weather conditions make it very difficult to do so." Neither Belmont nor Link believed any legal action would result from the 40-ton buoy's mishap. "Stuff happens," Link said. "When you put anything in the ocean you have to be careful."

Finavera's Clark said "we would rather get it out tomorrow if not yesterday" but removing the $ 2 million buoy requires some cooperation.

For one Mother Nature has to play along. The Pacific Ocean off the Oregon Coast can get very nasty as winter approaches. "It's just a piece of steel and we're not going to risk anybody's life to get a piece of steel out of the ocean," Clark said. Secondly Finavera has to line up a salvage crew and that takes 21-days advance notice, Bannister added. He said the company is "investigating other options but the writing seems to be on the wall that we're not going to be able to do that until spring or summer."

That's problematic for local fishermen, especially crabbers, said Link of the crab commission.  The Oregon crabbing season starts Dec. 1 and fishermen are scheduled to drop their gear on Nov. 28.  "It would be easier for them to get it out by the 27th before crab gear was spread out all off the coast in that area," Link said. 

Finavera officials said they would likely learn more about what went wrong the sooner they got the device off the ocean floor. "The evidence will be in better condition than if it's down there for six months," Bannister said.

According to Clark, the test buoy was only engineered to withstand three months of use. It sunk after two. "So when people say - Oh there's this device and it sank. How do you expect it to last 20 years or even five years in a real commercial development? It wasn't designed for that," Clark said. "Granted it wasn't designed for two months either."

Hope Floats 

Although Finavera officials admitted the sunken buoy was not the result they had wanted, they said from a data-gathering point of view, the test was a success. "For the purpose of the project, it was highly successful," Bannister said. "The actual data we got was positive and validated all the modeling," Clark added. Key data was harnessed from the host pump and the power takeoff system, he said. "But that's really hard to explain to people when the device sank - that we still got a lot of valuable information."

Clark said the buoy's sinking would not slow Finavera's wave energy development and the company is working on its third generation buoy - the AquaBuOY 3.0 - as planned. Its next buoy deployment will probably not take place before the end of 2008, Clark said.

Miriam Widman has more than 20 years experience as a journalist and has covered the wave and solar industries for Off the Record Research, an investment research group. She also contributes to NPR and to the Willamette Week, a weekly newspaper in Portland, Oregon.

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox - FREE!

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World Magazine and our award-winning e-Newsletter to stay up to date on current news and industry trends.

 Subscribe Now


First U.S. Grid-Connected OTEC Plant Goes Live on Hawaii

Andrew Burger Hawaii Governor David Ige on Aug. 21 joined executives from the Office of Ocean Naval Research (ONR), Makai Ocean Eng...

Makai Builds Ocean Thermal-Energy Demo Plant With U.S. Navy

Anna Hirtenstein, Bloomberg

Makai Ocean Engineering Inc. has built an ocean thermal-energy conversion demonstration plant in Hawaii.

Renewable Energy Gains Greater Opportunity in US Clean Power Plan

Elisa Wood After a year of being pummeled by opponents, Obama’s final carbon reduction plan emerged this week with an even stron...

Listen Up: Vampires Sucking Power from your House

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World Here’s a nightmare for you: at night, when you’re asleep and you think things are quiet, there are vampires sucking p...


Array Technologies Finalizes Shipments to E.ON’s Maricopa West Solar Project

Array Technologies, Inc. (ATI) has completed DuraTrack® HZ shipments to the 20 MW (ac) ...

B.C. Energy Minister to provide keynote at renewables for mines summit.

BC Minister of Energy and Mines to address the challenges of providing alternative powe...

Mining leaders seek renewables solutions at Toronto Summit

The global mining sector is facing a tough business environment with low commodity pric...

American Renewable Energy Institute Gears Up for 12th Annual Summit

"Racing Climate Change: Green Bridge with China, The Road to Paris” is the theme of th...


New Mexico Attracts Jobs and Revenues with Renewable Energy Tax Credit

New Mexico has abundant fossil fuel resources: in 2013, it ranked sixth in the nation for crude oil production, seven...

The Vice President Stole My Show (Not Really)

When I finished my Solar Power International (SPI) panel discussing what future opportunities the panelists saw in so...

The Value Of The Building

If you’re selling efficiency solutions in the built environment, you may find yourself being asked by your pros...

Sewage provides energy through processing

Many nations are investing in new technology to turn sewage waste into usable energy. Japan has recently revised its ...



Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon



International Energy and Sustainability Conference 2015

The fourth International Energy and Sustainability Conference will be he...

2015 AREDAY Summit

The 12th Annual AREDAY Summit, August 8-13th in Snowmass Colorado. Engag...

StartUp Green

AREI, American Renewable Energy Institute, in partnership with ...


Clean Energy Patents Maintain High Levels in First Quarter, Solar L...

U.S. patents for Clean Energy technologies from the first quarter of 201...

SAP for Utilities Blog

The Eventful Group produces the annual SAP for Utilites Conference ...

Renewables make huge strides globally in 2014

Renewable sources of energy are making an increasing impact on the globa...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now