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Bill DiBenedetto headshot

Lockheed Martin Riding a Big Wave Energy Project


Lockheed Martin has hooked up with Australia’s Victorian Wave Partners LLC to begin the development of what’s billed as the world’s largest wave energy project.

The 62.5-megawatt peak power wave energy generation project will be built off the coast of Victoria, Australia, using the PowerBuoy wave energy converter technology of Ocean Power Technologies (OPT).

Project construction will occur in three stages, with the first stage producing approximately 2.5-megawatt peak power. Once completed, the project is expected to produce enough electricity to power 10,000 homes. Because it also contributes to Australia’s goal of 20 percent renewable energy by 2020, the project is getting “significant grant support” from ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency).

Wave power devices extract energy from the surface motion of ocean waves. Unlike wind and solar sources, energy from ocean waves is highly predictable, plus it can generate electricity for more hours in the year than wind and solar. Wave power devices are typically quieter and much less visually obtrusive than wind turbines, which typically run more than 130 feet in height. The PowerBuoy system is 30 feet in height above the waterline and actually is barely visible because it typically is located three miles offshore.

“We are applying our design and system integration expertise to commercialize promising, emerging alternative energy technologies, including ocean power,” said Tim Fuhr, director of ocean energy for Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business. “This project extends our established relationship with OPT and Australian industry and enables us to demonstrate a clean, efficient energy source for Australia and the world.”

In this project, Lockheed Martin will provide overall project management, assist with the design for manufacturing of the PowerBuoy technology, lead the production of selected PowerBuoy components and perform system integration of the wave energy converters. Financial details of Lockheed’s investment in the project were not disclosed.

Victorian Wave Partners is an Australian special purpose company owned by OPT, a leader in wave energy technology development. The company’s PowerBuoy wave generation technology uses a "smart," ocean-going buoy to convert wave energy into low-cost, clean electricity. The buoy moves up and down with the rising and falling of waves. According to OPT, this mechanical energy drives an electrical generator, which transmits power to shore via an underwater cable. The system is electrically tuned on a wave-by-wave basis to maximize the amount of electricity produced.

If successful, the project will be a significant step forward in making ocean energy commercially feasible and available on a utility-level scale, or another way of saying that surf is really up.

Image: OPT PowerBuoy from Lockheed website

Bill DiBenedetto headshotBill DiBenedetto

Writer, editor, reader and generally good (okay mostly good, well sometimes good) guy trying to get by.

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