Vigor to build wave energy converter for Hawaii test

Portland, Ore.-based Vigor will build the 125’x59′ wave energy converter OE Buoy for Ocean Energy Group, Cobh, Ireland, and its subsidiary, Ocean Energy USA.

With a 31′ draft, OE Buoy will be deployed at the U.S. Navy’s Hawaii Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) on the windward coast of the Hawaiian Island of Oahu in the fall. The contract value is $6.5 million out of a total project value of $12 million for this first of a kind grid scale project at WETS.

Ocean Energy is the trading name of New Wave Technologies Ltd., part of a specialized commercial group of companies that are developing wave energy technology. The developing technology has been extensively tested and is now at a stage where it is one of the most commercially viable technologies for harnessing the power of the oceans. The device, through careful development, has the advantages of a robust and practical design, one moving part and proven survivability having withstood over three years of live sea trials in Atlantic waves at the Irish Wave Energy Test site in Galway Bay. To date, no other wave energy system can claim success in this area to a similar or greater extent, the company said

The sustainability aspects of this project are also indicative of the value that Irish innovation and entrepreneurship consistently provides U.S. partners. The 826-ton OE Buoy has a potential rated capacity of up to 1.25 MW in electrical power production. Each deployed commercial device could reduce CO2 emissions by over 3,600 tons annually, which for a utility-scale wave farm of 100 MW could amount to over 180,000 tons of CO2 a year. It is estimated that a 100-MW wave farm could power up to 18,750 U.S. homes.

The $12 million project is partly funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), under an agreement committing the U.S. and Irish governments to collaborating on marine hydrokinetic technologies.

“We are thrilled to be participating in this project with Ocean Energy toward the ongoing goal of a cleaner energy future for our planet,” Vigor’s CEO Frank Foti said in a statement announcing the contract. “This project represents a solid step forward in developing a commercially viable product to help move us in that critical direction.”

Ocean Energy is a portfolio company of Enterprise Ireland, the Irish government agency for the advancement of innovation, entrepreneurship and international business by Irish firms. The organization provides important strategic and consultative support to Irish businesses and is also Europe’s third largest venture capital firm by deal-count.

“With rigorous testing and scaling of OE Buoy over the past 10 years … announcement of the device being built in Oregon represents a truly major milestone for Ocean Energy,” said John McCarthy, Ocean Energy USA’s chief executive officer. “It’s the combination of Irish innovation and American manufacturing expertise and that’s always going to produce a world-class result. We are delighted to be partnering with Vigor, a renowned U.S. marine and industrial fabrication company, who has a track record of delivering cutting edge engineering projects. This internationally significant project will be invaluable to job creation, renewable energy generation and greenhouse gas reduction.”

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About the author

Ken Hocke

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.


  1. Avatar

    THIS Is the kind of technology that we as a country need to invest in. Too bad this adminastration is cutting His departments buget by 75%. Way to move backwards USA!

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    Christian Ingvorsen on

    Generate energy from waves is extremely fascinating and just as obvious as generate energy from wind generators. Hence the wave energy will not cause the same problems as 150 m high towers generating low frequency noise does.

    Denmark has looked into this area the last couple of decades. The main problem is the level of energy when facing storms. Having floating objects really calls for anchoring insight. Perhaps utilizing current below water will be a more safe solution?

  3. Avatar

    Shipyards in the USA could use a boost of work and this as well as offshore windfarms could translate to be a viable future market for them to explore. It is exciting that some companies are looking at these opportunities, while the Trump Administration seems more apt to continue to explore more investments in dirty fossel fuels. Gee, I wonder why that is?

  4. Avatar
    Mykhailo Lytovchenko on

    excuse me, but how much more time and money need to spend to understand: the use of reciprocating mechanism is not suitable for wave energy conversion!

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