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Vigor, Irish company partner on wave energy buoy

Jan 31, 2018 09:49 AM

The shipbuilder will produce the 826-ton converter for deployment off Oahu

A smaller prototype of the Ocean Energy wave buoy is tested in Galway Bay, Ireland.

Courtesy Ocean Energy

A smaller prototype of the Ocean Energy wave buoy is tested in Galway Bay, Ireland.

The following is the text of a news release from Vigor and Ocean Energy:

(NEW YORK) —  Some 7,000 miles separates Ireland and Hawaii but, as island peoples, both have always looked to their respective oceans for resources, inspiration and opportunity. Today, Irish company Ocean Energy announced its pioneering wave energy converter OE Buoy will be built by Oregon-based Vigor and deployed at the U.S. Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site on the windward coast of the Hawaiian island of Oahu in the fall of 2018. 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 the U.S. Navy site.

The project underscores the increasing significance of the bilateral economic relationship between Ireland and the United States. In 2017, Irish businesses employed more than 100,000 people in the U.S., and the number of jobs created by partnerships such as that between Vigor and Ocean Energy pushes the Irish contribution to U.S. employment multiples higher. Wave energy has a market potential of over $18 billion to Ireland’s economy by 2050. Similarly, the U.S. has a substantial wave energy resource, which could deliver up to 15 percent of its annual electricity demand. In Oregon, the estimated potential value to the local economy is $2.4 billion per annum with an associated 13,630 jobs.

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 measures 125 by 59 feet with a draft of 31 feet and 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 in a full year. It is estimated that a 100-MW wave farm could power up to 18,750 American homes.

Commenting on its partnership with Ocean Energy, Vigor CEO Frank Foti noted that his company has been actively engaged in building wave energy devices and their components for the past 10 years. "We are thrilled to be participating in this project with Ocean Energy toward the ongoing goal of a cleaner energy future for our planet. This project represents a solid step forward in developing a commercially viable product to help move us in that critical direction,” he said.

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, today’s announcement of the device being built in Oregon represents a truly major milestone for Ocean Energy,” said John McCarthy, Ocean Energy USA 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.”

The $12 million project is part 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 American and Irish governments to collaborating on marine hydrokinetic technologies.

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