The USP has been developed to facilitate the collection, networking and transforming of power and data generated by up to 10 of its PowerBuoys for transmission to a shore-based electricity grid by one sub sea power cable. It has been built as an open platform, and can therefore provide "plug and play" connectivity for any offshore energy device linked to it.
Underwater trials of the USP included pressure testing, running electric power to and from the system, and verification of data communication capabilities.
The completion of this significant milestone by OPT is part of an Engineering, Procurement and Construction contract with Iberdrola Marinas de Cantabria, a special purpose company whose shareholders include:
, the major Spanish utility company;
Sodercan, the regional development agency for the Cantabria region of northern Spain;
IDAE, the energy agency of the Spanish government; and
Total, the oil and gas company.
OPT believes that the USP is a unique product in the offshore market and creates a potentially new revenue stream for the company from sales to third parties engaged in marine power development and other offshore activities. Current sources of OPT's revenues are PowerBuoys designed for utility-scale power generation projects and autonomous applications such as offshore homeland security.
The USP was designed and developed entirely by OPT from concept to manufacture and successful underwater testing. The majority of offshore energy systems generate electricity at low voltage and need to step-up to medium or high voltage for efficient transmission to shore.
Additionally, offshore power projects typically have a number of devices (wind turbines, wave energy converters, tidal devices) that need to be networked offshore so that a single sub sea cable can export the power and data to the shore. OPT has fully analyzed these requirements and developed its innovative USP to meet these performance demands. In order to minimize the cost and complexity of marine operations, innovative connections and disconnections have also been designed to be undertaken at the sea surface using standard vessels.
Stuart Bower, Engineering and Projects Director of Ocean Power Technologies Limited, who led the development team of this exciting new product, stated: "This project has been a true engineering challenge of converting an idea on a whiteboard into reality and demonstrates how the company's technical base can be used to create valuable intellectual property. Comparable products used in the offshore oil and gas industry do not have the USP's advantages for higher power capacity, longer life expectancy, fewer moving parts, a passive cooling system, lower cost per megawatt, and the ability to accommodate many power generation devices. We are delighted at the potential value the USP can bring to wave power projects and other offshore energy markets."