PG&E First in the Nation to Buy Wave Energy

SAN FRANCISCO, California, December 21, 2007 (ENS) – Pacific Gas and Electric Company has entered into a long-term, two megawatt commercial wave energy power purchasing agreement with Finavera Renewables Inc. both companies said Tuesday.

Finavera has begun development plans for the two megawatt wave energy project to be constructed 2.5 miles off the coast of Humboldt County, California.

The project is expected to begin delivering electricity in 2012 to PG&E’s customers throughout its northern and central California service territory.

“Harnessing the ocean’s energy on a utility scale is a critical achievement in renewable energy technology and this project represents our first step in that direction,” said Fong Wan, vice president of Energy Procurement, PG&E.

Finavera Renewables’ planned offshore power project consists of patented wave energy converters that are based on marine buoy technology, the company says. Clusters of these modular devices called AquaBuOYs will be moored several miles offshore where the wave resource is the greatest.

The AquaBuOY converts the
kinetic energy of the vertical
motion of oncoming waves
into clean electricity. (Photo
courtesy Finavera)

A cluster of AquaBuOYs would have a low silhouette in the water. Located several miles offshore, the wave power project arrays would be visible to allow for safe navigation and about as visible as a small fleet of fishing boats.

The wave power projects are scalable from hundreds of kilowatts to hundreds of megawatts and are designed to provide clean, renewable energy for large population centers.

Energy transfer takes place by converting the vertical component of wave kinetic energy into pressurized seawater by means of two-stroke hose pumps.

The pressurized seawater is directed into an energy conversion system consisting of a turbine driving an electrical generator. The power is transmitted to shore by means of an undersea transmission line.

“This power purchase agreement with PG&E represents a major accomplishment for Finavera Renewables and the development of commercial wave energy power projects,” said Finavera Renewables CEO Jason Bak. “This is a huge step forward for offshore wave energy.”

Finavera intends to build wave energy power plants globally and is now developing wave energy projects for AquaBuOY in Canada, and South Africa. The project in South Africa is the result of a commitment made by Bak to the Clinton Global Initiative.

In addition to PG&E’s agreement with Finavera Renewables, the utility independently filed permit applications with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in February to develop generation projects that could convert the wave energy off the coast of Mendocino and Humboldt counties into electricity.

Named “WaveConnect,” these projects are currently undergoing initial resource, environmental, and ocean use assessments. If developed, the WaveConnect projects would use wave energy conversion devices to transform the energy of ocean waves into electricity.

PG&E submitted the first application in North America for a project that will allow multiple WEC device manufacturers to demonstrate their devices on a common site, which could help accelerate the development of wave energy technology.

“Wave energy, along with solar thermal energy and biogas generated from cow manure, are examples of the innovative and promising sources of non-polluting, renewable energy PG&E is pursuing as part of our commitment to combat climate change,” said Wan.

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