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Port of New Bedford hosts one-of-a-kind device

NEW BEDFORD — A warm drink sitting in the refrigerator of a boat may have revolutionized the mooring industry.

“Every time we go to the boat, my wife reminds me we don’t have a cold drink on the boat,” said Anthony Baro, the managing principle of Power Docks.

Power Docks’ new mooring system called Blue Isles could change all that. Described as a “floating microgrid,” Blue Isles allows vessels the opportunity to plug into a power source while mooring at any marina.

“There’s no difference other than you’re in the middle of the water,” Baro said.

Last week, Power Docks placed a Blue Isles prototype in the Port of New Bedford.

“It’s very unique and the concept is awesome,” Ed Anthes-Washburn, director of the Port of New Bedford and Harbor Development Commission Executive Director said. “We’re happy to help Power Docks as they develop the prototype.”

Anthes-Washburn said the device is one-of-a-kind on the East Coast and might be the only one in any harbor across the globe.

Normally, a boat that’s moored would have to run electronics like a refrigerator through its diesel engine or a backup generator. Blue Isles stores solar energy to allow charging to occur in the water but away from the marina.

Power Docks teamed with New Bedford’s ImpactLABS to integrate Internet of Things systems to make the floating microgrid more dynamic, too.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work at LABS in instrumenting coastal resilience,” Managing Director of ImpactLABS Chris Rezendes said. “This just looked like a perfect intersection.”

Once the prototype was developed, other purposes of use appeared.

Bora said if New Bedford’s 300 moorings were converted to Blue Isles, they could store more than 1 MWh, which could be used during power loss in disaster situations.

Each Blue Isle can be combined with another. They can then be outputted to an on-shore source. Bora envisioned a clean energy power storage for first responders during crisis situations.

“We’re finding a lot of market applications that need electrical power in the water space,” Baro said.

The floating grid also comes with a 360-degree camera that can provide security help. Instead of boating to the scene, authorities can first use the camera to grab a visual of the situation.

The device can also provide water quality results. In terms of other research, Baro said researchers can use the moorings to wireless charge autonomous underwater vessels.

“It’s very exciting,” Baro said. “It’s pretty exciting to see how a simple product like this can produce so many benefits not only from personal boater but to environmental benefits.”

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