NW Energy Innovations completes deployment of wave energy buoy

The deployment of the WET-NZ wave energy buoy wrapped up this week off the coast of Newport.
Photo by Jeffrey Bassinger Photography

The deployment of the WET-NZ wave energy buoy wrapped up this week off the coast of Newport. 

A Portland company that's been working for two years on wave energy technology through a $1.8 million contract with the U.S. Department of Energy announced this week that it completed the deployment of an initial test buoy.

The device, known as the Wave Energy Technology-New Zealand or WET-NZ buoy, was developed through a partnership between Northwest Energy Innovations — which was formed in 2010 as a subsidiary of Portland-based Pacific Energy Ventures — the DOE and the New Zealand government.

The buoy first hit the water last month, the first to be tested by the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center’s open ocean test facility near Newport. This week the deployment was completed, connecting the device by underwater cable to the test center's instrumentation buoy, named the Ocean Sentinel, which will collect power-generation data.

"I've been working in this industry for five or six years now," said Justin Klure, project manager for Northwest Energy Innovations. "It's really exciting to finally have steel in the water."

The buoy itself was built from some parts shipped from New Zealand with others built by Oregon Iron Works. It was assembled at the Port of Toledo. The WET-NZ buoy is a prototype and will stay in the water for a few weeks before being hauled in to avoid the rough winter weather. The data will be evaluated before Northwest Energy Innovations determines the next steps for developing a commercial-grade version of the buoy.

The project was one of 27 funded by the DOE through a push to develop marine and hydrokenetic energy technology. The Oregon Wave Energy Trust also contributed funding to the project through a $50,000 feasibility study grant awarded in 2010 and a follow-on $65,000 commercialization grant following the DOE contract award.

"What we're doing is advancing the technology," Klure said. "It's the next generation of what they've already done in New Zealand."

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