The Australian Wave Energy Project has been Cancelled, and that's Tough on the Entire Wave Energy Field

by Henry Kaplan | Jul 17, 2014 |

 

Ocean Power Technologies has called it quits another ocean energy project they were planning, saying that it’s not “commercially viable”. They had originally planned to deploy their “PowerBuoys” to create a wave energy installation off the coast of Australia. Now, they’re canceling the $200 million project and returning over $60 million in grant money to the Australian government. In the days since that announcement, the stock price of Ocean Power Technologies fell to its lowest point since its initial public offering.

Bloomberg points out that this follows recent signs of upheaval for Ocean Power Technologies and its Australian unit Victorian Wave Partners:

The company, based in Pennington, New Jersey, last month fired Chief Executive Officer Charles Dunleavy, according to a June 10 SEC filing. He was terminated “for cause” and received no severance. David Keller, a director, was named interim CEO.

At the same time Ocean Power initiated an internal investigation related to Victorian Wave Partners’s relationship with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. It didn’t provide details on Dunleavy’s termination or why it was looking into the Australia project.

This cancellation sounds familiar to those of us following Ocean Power Technologies. It wasn’t that long ago that we were writing about their decision to scrap their plans for a similar wave energy installation off the coast of Oregon. Ocean Power Technologies had decided that the costs for the Oregon wave energy system were higher than they had expected, and decided to focus on this project in Australia instead. But now this Australia project has gone the same way.

Unlike more established renewable energy technologies – like solar or wind, which are widely used today – wave energy is still very much in its early stages. Most efforts to use wave energy in a practical way are small in scope, and in remote areas where other forms of energy are also difficult to come by. The economy of scale is not working in ocean energy’s favor at the moment. As it is one of the few companies aiming to generate energy from ocean power at a large scale, many are looking to Ocean Power Technologies to pave the way for this young industry, and to put some initial standards and production methods in place. With this setback, it looks like the ocean power industry will have to wait.


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