The utility PowerBuoy PB40 was a prototype with unique, direct-drive Power Take-Off system. Compact and modular in design, the PowerBuoy was less than 12 feet in diameter and 55 feet long. It was based on OPT's proprietary design which is primarily below the sea surface when deployed, with minimal visual impact.
Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii.
OPT has been collecting data since the first OPT unit was deployed in June 2004 and has completed an extensive EA. This congressionally funded project, managed by Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), was intended to demonstrate the feasibility of wave power for naval facilities worldwide. The Buoy was installed in 2009, connected to the grid in September 2010, and decommissioned in 2011.
Key Environmental Issues
The OPT wave power project at Oahu underwent an extensive environmental assessment by an independent environmental firm in accordance with the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA). This study featured evaluation of potential impacts on: the seabed, fish and benthic organisms, mammals, vegetation, and water quality, all within the sensitive ecosystems of Oahu. The project study resulted in a Finding Of No Significant Impact (FONSI), which is the highest environmental rating. The results of this study are included in a Report to Congress prepared by the US Department of Energy, titled “Potential Environmental Effects of Marine and Hydrokinetic Technologies”.
Papers, Reports, Research Studies
- Office of Naval Research (2003). Environmental Assessment for Proposed Wave Energy Technology Project in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Report by US Office of Naval Research and US Department of the Navy. pp 300.
Baseline Assessment: Kaneohe Bay OPT Wave Project
|Receptor||Study Description||Design and Methods||Results||Status|
|Marine Mammals||Humpback Whale presence||Underwater site assessment and desk studies.||Humpback whales have been observed in waters as shallow as 15 ft from November through April. Tail slapping, breaching, and pods are routinely observed – as many as 15 individuals as one time.||Completed|
|Marine Mammals||Hawaiian monk seal presence||Underwater site assessment and desk studies.||An average of three sightings a year occurs on the shoreline and in nearshore waters. None were observed during underwater assessment.||Completed|
|Reptiles||Green Sea Turtles presence||Underwater site assessment and desk studies.||No turtles were seen during the assessment, but prior studies showed their presence.||Completed|
|Human Dimensions, Fisheries||Identify fishing that occurs in the area||Underwater site assessment and desk studies.||Fish such as ono or wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri), aku or skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), and moano ukali-ulua or goat fish (Parupeneus cyclostomus) typically occur along the 100-ft depth contour in the project area. For this reason, commercial, limited subsistence, and recreational fishing is conducted near the project area at this depth. The bottom conditions at the proposed project site do not offer unique habitat for species occurring in the area, and the site is not considered highly productive for spear fishing or uniquely attractive for SCUBA diving.||Completed|
|Human Dimensions, Recreation & Tourism||Identify recreational activities in the area||Desk studies.||Recreational activities in the vicinity of the project area include beachcombing, boating, bodysurfing, bottom fishing, jet skiing, kayaking, outrigger canoe paddling, sailing, trolling, surfing, swimming, sunbathing, pole fishing, thrownet fishing, spear fishing, and SCUBA diving.||Completed|