When New Jersey-based Ocean Power Technologies pulled the plug on its planned wave power project off the southern coast of Oregon, it may seemed to have given a black eye to the idea of wave power. But in fact, it’s only a black eye for a specific company with a certain technology in an unsettled regulatory climate.
Consider the contrast between Ocean Power’s approach and that of Columbia Power, a quieter wave-energy firm with headquarters in Charlottesville, Va., and a development team affiliated with Oregon State University in Corvallis.
The first animation shows how Columbia Power’s wave-powered electrical generator works. Its critical components are smaller, less complex and oriented to capture wave energy in a different way. Those used by Ocean Power, whose generator is shown in the lower animation, rely a sharply vertical pistoning action.