New underwater generator could power 1,000 homes via ocean waves

In light of an ever-expanding global population and fluctuating petroleum prices, research into clean, renewable energy sources is perhaps more important now than ever. Politicians and environmental analysts alike expect a reduction in dependency on foreign oil to help improve air, soil and water quality while simultaneously strengthening the American economy.

In order for this research to pay off, however, there is a need for innovative and cost-effective approaches to harnessing alternative energy. Enter companies like Ocean Power Technologies. This New Jersey-based company is preparing to launch the first commercially licensed grid-connected wave-energy generator in the country sometime in early October.

According to The New York Times, the 260-ton device will be positioned more than two miles offshore of Reedsport, Oregon – and underwater. The goal is to siphon power generated by ocean waves and transmit it back to land via underwater cables, providing electricity to roughly 1,000 homes.

Jason Busch, the executive director of the nonprofit Oregon Wave Energy Trust, told the Times of the launch's importance. The organization alone has contributed upward of $430,000 in grant money to the project.

"All eyes are on the O.P.T. buoy," he said. "It has to survive."

Parts of the generator and other equipment operating at depths of 100 feet or more below the ocean's surface need to be hermetically sealed to avoid damage. They also need to be able to withstand extreme sea conditions generated by severe weather. Reliable metal joining methods are essential in making sure that devices can hold up under pressure and maintain high levels of productivity.

While the importance of renewable energy is clear, it cannot be harnessed without forward-thinkers who make such equipment not only possible, but affordable.

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