Everything was somewhat ship-shape until the cork came out of the bathtub, says Pelamis Wave Power.
The company-which is at the forefront of the marine energy movement-says that the three 750-kilowatt wave machines it had installed off of the coast of Portugal last year were largely working as expected before they were pulled ashore in November. It's a new technology, so problems and unforeseen difficulties were occurring. Still, power was being fed to the grid.
At times, the individual devices were producing around 200 kilowatts of power, said Max Carcas, director of business development of the company, in a phone interview to clarify recent news reports.
"We were working it up in different wave conditions," he said.
The problem was financing. Babcock & Brown, the energy services company, found itself enmeshed in the credit crisis and began to sell its assets. The company owns 77 percent of the three wave machines.
"They are the owner who pays the operating bills," Carcas said. "It's been a difficult situation."
The company has been mired in controversy this week after an International Herald Tribune article said that the three devices were towed to shore in November, a few months after going to sea, because of technical problems. Financial difficulties than kept the devices on shore. Carcas said that the article did not accurately portray the situation.
Here's the technological chronology, says Carcas. Pelamis put the first device, a 140-meter segmented buoy that resembles a sea snake, in the waters off the coast of Portugal in July. The company initially experienced a buoyancy problem with the turret buoy, a crucial piece of technology that anchors the thing. Carcas, though, says it "sorted that out prior to deployment" of all three in September. The devices were pulled in for a few technical issues in November and then the financial crisis took its effect.
Those November technical issues were essentially fixed, and Pelamis figured it would be back in the water soon. But the weeks dragged on.
In Feburary, Pelamis was still putting on a happy face.
"We're still in the work up phase. We only got things going September. But the results are in line with what we were expecting," Carcas told us back in Febuary.
Well, except for that not actually operating at the moment.