The Oregon coastal communities of Newport and Reedsport have been chosen as the two finalists for the possible location of the Pacific Marine Energy Center, a planned $8 million, “grid-connected” wave energy testing facility in the Pacific Northwest.
Officials at the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Oregon State University said these locations offer advantages in cost, distance to shore and other factors over the two other sites that had also been considered, at Coos Bay and Camp Rilea near Warrenton.
Committees will now be formed in Newport and Reedsport to conduct more detailed local site analysis before a final decision is made.
After funding is complete and the site is established, this research facility will feature four test berths connected to a regional electrical grid, able to test individual, utility-scale or small arrays of wave energy devices. Completion is not expected for several years after funding is finalized. But when done, officials said it will provide jobs and economic growth while attracting researchers from all over the world who will use it to test their wave energy technologies.
“We’ve carefully weighed a number of factors and decided that Newport and Reedsport have the most advantages for this project,” said Belinda Batten, a professor at OSU and director of NNMREC.
Among the factors involved in the decision, Batten said, were distance to the ocean depth from shore, access to support services and onshore infrastructure, community support and overall costs.
Newport has some level of supporting infrastructure already in place, good transportation, a nearby electrical substation and strong community support, officials said. Reedsport has less existing infrastructure but deeper water nearer to shore than other sites, supportive community leaders and other advantages.
Alternate locations that were considered either lacked sufficient onshore infrastructure or the distance to offshore sites with sufficient depth were too distant.
The Oregon Wave Energy Trust collaborated with NNMREC in this selection process, which has included community forums and public outreach.
Those involved with the project anticipate that Oregon will be the leader of wave energy development in the United States, and the site of the first commercial generation of wave-produced electricity. Test facilities such as this will be a key factor in helping this evolving industry to move forward and develop optimum technologies for producing electricity from the largely untapped power of ocean waves.