AOPS Are Going to Help Transform the Ocean Economy, but What Are They?

From electric vehicle charging stations appearing everywhere to the drones Amazon is using to deliver packages in some markets, it is easy to see the electrification transformation that’s occurring on land. But the ocean is out of sight and out of mind, which is why many people don’t know what’s happening in the busy, multitrillion dollar economy operating out there. 

Like our land-based economy, the ocean economy needs energy. The problem is that the ocean is a desert – a power desert. There is a fierce drive for innovation to unlock the transformation away from how business has been done in the ocean for more than 50 years – expensive, dirty, risky, and labor-intensive. But the transition can’t be completed without technology that delivers “local” power and real-time communications.  

Enter autonomous offshore power systems (AOPS).  

While C-Power is not the only company developing an AOPS, we do think we are the world leader, and our SeaRAY AOPS will support a wide range of potential applications that will spur innovation in critical industries, such as defense and security, offshore energy, aquaculture, and science and research. But before getting into applications, let’s start with the basics. 

What Is an AOPS, Exactly? 

Within the ocean economy, increasing amounts of effort and resources are being devoted to upgrading existing hardware and creating new systems that will be able to: 

  • Be more autonomous and persistent, while performing increasingly complex tasks
  • Collect, process, and transmit richer datasets more often
  • Enable the drive toward electrification and netzero operations
  • Do any or all the above more cost-effectively, more safely, and with less environmental impact 

However, this vision cannot be realized without the ability to access more robust, local energy sources and communications services. As one customer told us, “The problem is always getting the power in and the data out.” Significant opportunity exists if we can convert the power desert into an energized, connected, and data-rich environment for tomorrow’s ocean economy. 

An AOPS is how we do that, enabling two critical advances: 

  1. They provide the local energy and real-time data and communications services needed to reliably support resident systems and ocean operations that aren’t possible today. 
  2. They eliminate the need for persistent topside, carbon-fueled energy sources.  

The configurations of an AOPS are incredibly flexible, allowing them to meet the needs of a wide array of customer uses across industries. You can think of an AOPS as the combination of a remote charging station, a data server, and a cell tower, but out in the ocean. These new, low-power marine energy systems are easy to transport and deploy. They are platforms that enable deployment of mobile and static assets for weeks, months or years in shallow- and deep-water locations. Multiple assets – such as sensor packagesoperating equipment, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), unmanned surface vessels (USV), communications, and other similar payloads – can be supported simultaneously 

C-Power’s SeaRAY AOPS can deliver power in the sub-kW to greater than 20 kW range and be configured as a moored or free-floating system. In a moored configuration, our electricity-generating surface wave energy converter is connected via a single, combined mooring, data, communications, and power cable to a base energy storage unit. Payloads can be supported on the surface, in the water column, on the seafloor, or any combination of these. 

The result is ultra-reliable, autonomous offshore power, energy storage, and real-time data and comms for a wide range of payloads. 

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