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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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.