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Wave Energy Prototype, 'SeaRay,' Exceeds Expectations (VIDEO)

Wave Energy Power Searay

First Posted: 03/17/11 11:27 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:40 PM ET

From EarthTechling's Caleb Denison:

Add another notch to Oregon’s growing wave power industry. The case for commercialized wave energy is enjoying another surge forward now that Columbia Power Technologies has officially deployed a prototype wave energy device and secured fresh funding from both private and government backers.

Just a few months ago we reported that the Corvallis, Oregon company appeared to be gaining ground in the effort to fund the next phase of its R&D. Now, their protoype device, called SeaRay, is floating in the Puget Sound and sending back performance data for analysis.

“The SeaRay is performing beyond our expectations and tracking well with modeling predictions,” said Reenst Lesemann, CEO of Columbia Power Technologies. “Our task is to demonstrate to utilities and independent power producers that we can help them deliver power predictably, reliably, and at a cost that is competitive. At this stage, we are making this happen in a very rapid and capital-efficient manner.”

According to Columbia Power Technologies, the SeaRay’s design allows it to extract up to twice the energy from ocean waves as other developing technologies. By employing what the company refers to as a “heave and surge” energy capture design, the SeaRay is able to reportedly tap the full energy potential from passing waves. Its design also looks to make it uniquely conditioned to survive a harsh battering about at sea.

Columbia Power Technologies indicated its longer term goal is “to deliver megawatt-scale devices, capable of operating in the widest range of temperate zone coastal load centers around the globe.” To do that, they’ll need funding and, it would seem, they now have it. Though details on how much funding they attained was not disclosed, Columbia Power Technologies did confirm that private backers were on board saying: “…the closing of Columbia Power’s recent private capital signifies excellent validation of the company’s vision and technical development capabilities.”

For those who wonder if there is money to be made from wave power for companies like Columbia, consider this: according to the start up “the world’s oceans are estimated to contain enough practically extractable energy to provide over 6,000 terawatt hours of electricity each year, which is enough to power over 600 million homes and is worth over $900 billion annually.” It looks like there might be gold in them there ocean waves after all.

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Filed by Travis Donovan  |