Finavera had been collecting data before the buoy took on water and bilge pump fails
LORI TOBIAS, The Oregonia, November 1, 2007
NEWPORT — The first wave energy test buoy deployed off the Oregon coast has sunk.
Engineers with the Canadian energy developer Finavera Renewables learned the $2 million buoy plunged to the ocean floor only a day before they were to remove the 72-foot tall device, Finavera spokesman Mike Clark said Wednesday.
Aquabuoy 2.0 was built by Oregon Iron Works in Portland and deployed Sept. 6 about 2.5 miles off Agate Beach.
Since then, Finavera has been collecting data from the buoy by computer. But late last week the buoy began taking on water, and the bilge pump failed.
“The bilge pump is monitored, and we knew that there was something going on from the data,” Clark said. Engineers visited the buoy to prepare to retrieve it, but when they returned Saturday, it had sank.
The buoy is about 150 feet below the ocean’s surface. The firm plans to recover it, Clark said, but will have to wait until spring when ocean conditions are calmer.
Meanwhile, the buoy shouldn’t cause any problems, he said.
“I know there may be concerns about environmental impacts, but part of the benefit of the design of the device is there are no hydraulic oils,” Clark said. “There is little if any environmental impact from having this down there. Basically it is metal with a piece of rubber hose in it.”
But the fishing community isn’t so sure it’s harmless.
“This validates our concerns,” said Al Pazar, chairman of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission. “We’ve got a big chunk of iron laying at the bottom of the ocean which will probably gobble up a bunch of crab gear. It’s just another place for things to collect and make a big mess. There is a learning curve here, and we are way at the bottom of it.”
Despite the sinking, Clark called the test run a success, and the information gathered will be used to develop the next buoy.
“From our perspective it doesn’t hamper the development of the technology at all. This device was going to be broken down anyway and was not going to be put back out in the water. But the end result a day before we were to get it out of the water was not something we would have wished for.”