Eni to use wave-energy device for AUV charging

Italian oil company Eni has signed a contract with Ocean Power Technologies for the supply of OPT’s PowerBuoy in the Adriatic Sea for marine environmental monitoring and offshore asset inspection using autonomous underwater vehicles.

OPT’s PowerBuoy consists of a float, spar, and heave plate. The float moves up and down the spar in response to the motion of the waves, generating electricity for the onboard payload or for export to nearby marine applications using a submarine electrical cable. According to OPT, the high-performance wave energy conversion system generates power even in moderate wave environments.

Under the agreement with Eni, the PowerBuoy technology will be used to demonstrate subsea battery charging, and eventually may be used to provide a stand-alone charging station and communications platform that would enable the long-term remote operation of AUVs.

George H. Kirby, President and Chief Executive Officer of OPT, said, “This commercial agreement with Eni is our first in the oil and gas market and is a significant milestone for our company.  The technology being developed could allow Eni to use clean energy to demonstrate the power and communications capabilities of a combined PB3-subsea battery charging system in a harsh offshore environment, for AUV and other applications.  We are excited about this new relationship and look forward to helping Eni further advance its operations.”

Kirby added, “We believe the Eni deployment could lead to other applications including the charging of underwater unmanned vehicles, well monitoring, and decommissioning applications in the oil and gas industry, as well as metocean data collection. We hope to leverage this work to further expand the use of our PB3 PowerBuoy™ throughout our target markets including oil and gas, security, defense and telecommunications,” added Kirby.

“At the end of the initial 18-month lease and upon successfully achieving pre-defined technical metrics, Eni will have the option to either extend the lease for an additional 18 months or purchase the PB3 PowerBuoy™.

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