Ocean Power Technologies Heads to Australia

New Jersey’s Ocean Power Technologies (s OPTT) said today it’s signed an agreement with Australia’s Leighton Contractors to develop wave power projects off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

This is the latest in a number of deals for Ocean Power over the past year. Last month, the company signed a contract under the U.S. Navy’s Deep Water Active Detection Systems program. That’s its second contract with the Navy for the data gathering and communications project, with both deals worth a total of $5 million for Ocean Power. And in September, Spanish utility Iberdrola deployed a PowerBuoy from Ocean Power off the coast of Spain, with Ocean Power calling it the world’s first commercial utility-scale wave power generation venture.

Ocean Power’s PowerBuoy has a piston that moves as the buoy rises and falls with the waves, driving a generator that produces electricity.

The companies may still have a lot of legwork to do before they can release any details about the project, however. Ocean Power will first work on identifying potential project sites and assessing their commercial prospects. Once those sites are picked, Leighton, an engineering and construction services firm, will work on obtaining government approvals, negotiating power purchase agreements, and structuring the project financing.

Leighton will also oversee project delivery and operation of the wave power stations, with Ocean Power selling its PowerBuoy systems to companies formed by Leighton for the projects, but Ocean Power didn’t say how many projects they expect to set up or how much power they’ll generate.

Leighton also signed a deal today with Germany’s MAN Solar Millennium to set up solar thermal power plants in Australia. There weren’t any details on the financial terms of that deal, either, nor did Leighton say how many plants they plan to build. MAN Solar, a joint venture of MAN Ferrostaal and Solar Millennium, was formed to construct and finance large-scale solar thermal power plants with a capacity of 50-250 megawatts. MAN Solar is currently working on the 50-MW Andasol 3 solar thermal plant in southern Spain.

Google Floats Idea of Wave Powered Data Center

When Google’s energy guru Bill Weihl told us that the search engine giant has been looking at renewable energy options for data centers like solar thermal, wind and geothermal, we had no idea the company was considering the deep blue, too. Well, according to a patent that Google filed that’s starting to get picked up around the blogosphere, the company is looking into a “water-based data center” that floats on a platform and  uses “a sea-based electrical generator” and “sea-water cooling units.”

The patent mentions a wave-powered electrical generator system that uses machines made by Pelamis. Pelamis is a decade-old Edinburgh-based company that has raised £40 million of investment and employs more than 70 people. Pelamis is already working on three large wave farms that range from 2.5 MW to 5 MW in capacity. The patent also mention using wind turbines for the sea-based electrical generator to “provide pumping power for the sea-water cooling units.”

So what’s the purpose of sending data centers out to sea? Google says floating data centers on the water can get them significantly closer to users, which can cut down on the connection costs and latency issues of long distance connections. Google also sites the possible need for floating data centers to get close to emergency situations, like a natural disaster or military war zone. Other companies like IBM, Sun and HP have modular data center products, but this is the first we’ve heard of the data centers bobbing on the high seas.

Minox DM1 for photos, video, MP3s and web cam

Minox_dm1When I first read about the Minox DM1 I asked myself if there is anything the little camera couldn’t do. I still can’t think of anything else I would want in a digital camera given everything Minox has crammed into the tiny gadget.  Take the 3.2 MP digital camera, add a digital video camera and digital audio recorder, then add a MP3 player and you have a very complete multi-purpose gadget that is only 94 grams.  Did I mention it doubles as a VGA web cam?  Full specs and details on Cameratown.