One of the largest oil companies in Australia has purchased a stake in a U.S. renewable energy company.
PERTH, Australia – Woodside Petroleum Ltd. has purchased 5 percent of Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. (OPT) of New Jersey. It is Woodside’s first investment in renewable energy. The deal was worth US$3.6 million, according to officials, comprised of $3 for every one million shares in OPT and an option to buy 500,000 tonnes of carbon credits by 2012 at a discount. It also includes a further option to buy 40 percent of Ocean Power Technologies (Australasia) Pty Ltd. That subsidiary has the commercial rights to use OPT’s intellectual property in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. It is installing a PowerBuoy(TM) unit off the coast of Portland, Victoria for Powercor Australia, in conjunction with the Australian Greenhouse Office. OPT develops systems to harness ocean wave power to generate electricity. It uses the energy in the waves to generate electricity in a modular, buoy-like structure called a PowerBuoy. “As well as being a sound commercial investment based on a demonstrated technology, it complements Woodside’s other investments in new energy technologies such as fuel cells, our research into natural gas hydrates as a storage and transport medium, our West Kimberley and Esperance power proposals in Western Australia and our recently announced joint venture with the Oil Mallee Company,” says Richard Beresford of Woodside.”We are building a portfolio of technologies and services from which we can select the right mix to meet cost-effectively the needs of a growing number of energy consumers who want to demonstrate environmental leadership. OPT fits in well with this portfolio.” “We are delighted with Woodside’s investment and believe that a close association with Australia’s largest independent energy company will enable OPT to grow its business in the Australasian region very quickly,” adds OPT’s CCEO George Taylor. “Woodside’s regional links will complement the U.S., Japanese and European business connections already established by OPT.” Woodside Petroleum has a market capitalization of US$5 billion and is Australia’s largest independent oil and gas producer. It has investments in Ceramic Fuel Cells, an Australian solid oxide fuel cell developer. OPT is a private New Jersey company. It claims its PowerBuoys have the potential to provide low-cost, clean electrical power on a large scale. In addition to grid and remote power, specific applications include hydrogen generation for fuel cells, water treatment, desalination and natural resource processing. Its research was funded by the U.S. Navy under the Small Business Innovation Research Program of the Office of Naval Research.