Three massive anchors for America’s first multi-buoy wave energy project will arrive late tonight.
The anchors are on a Dutch ship that will dock by Roseburg Forest Products on the North Spit. They eventually will hold a test buoy a couple of miles off the coast of Gardiner.
Sause Bros. towing will spend Memorial Day weekend unloading the anchors, which are 26 feet tall, 33 feet in diameter and weigh roughly 450 tons, said Paul Debolt, a superintendent for Ports America. Each is taller than a two-story building and nearly half the size of a basketball court.
The anchors initially were designed to be smaller, said Reedsport Mayor Keith Tymchuk, who has been involved in the project since it began six years ago.
But in the past several months project’s developer, New Jersey-based Ocean Power Technologies, chose heavier anchors to make sure the test buoy doesn’t drift.
The anchors will be stored in Coos Bay until late summer, when the test buoy will be deployed into the ocean, Tymchuk said.
Wave energy generator buoys have never been tested long-term in the United States, Tymchuk said. He hopes this design will succeed, but there is no way to tell until the test phase is over. If the design works, OPT may deploy as many as 10 buoys.
‘They have a design they believe will create electricity,” Tymchuk said. ‘With this first buoy we will see how much electricity we get and how it weathers the environment. This will be the first multiple-buoy project.”
The buoys will be held by interconnecting trios of 450-ton anchors.
Not everyone is excited for the project. The location where the buoys will be placed is a productive crabbing zone, said Nick Ferman, the director of the Oregon Dungeons Crab Commission.
Ferman is part of Southern Oregon Ocean Resource Coalition, which is working closely with the project developers to ensure that the wave energy project does not do more harm than good.
‘We are trying to stay engaged with the developers to make sure the fishermen don’t get the short end of the stick,” Ferman said.
At the same time he said he is trying to stay optimistic about the project, which could help the local economy.
The buoy apparatus that will house the wave energy generator equipment is being stored at the American Bridge facility, said Fred Jacquot, a manager at American Bridge.
The buoy is scheduled to deploy in late summer.
‘I want to see those things in the water,” Tymchuk said. ‘I want to see if this is the technology that works.