The U.S. Department of Energy announced $25 million in funding to support increased research, development, and demonstration of technologies that harness wave power to create electricity. The funding supports eight projects that will make up the first round of open-water testing at the PacWave South test site off the Oregon coast.
In March, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued Oregon State University a license to build and operate the nation’s first pre-permitted wave energy testing facility, culminating an unprecedented regulatory process that spanned nearly 10 years.
PacWave South is the first commercial-scale, utility grid-connected test site in the United States to obtain a FERC license and will be the first marine renewable energy research facility in federal waters off the Pacific Coast.
The test site, located about seven miles offshore southwest of Newport, Oregon, will offer wave energy developers the opportunity to try different technologies for harnessing the power of ocean waves and transmitting that energy to the local electrical grid.
The DOE funding awards are aimed at strengthening wave energy technologies to “accelerate their commercial viability and deploy them at scale to help decarbonize the grid and reach President Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said DOE.
“Harnessing the unrelenting power of the ocean is a clean, innovative, and sustainable way to curtail carbon pollution — benefitting American businesses and families, especially coastal communities hit hardest by the impacts of climate change,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Diversifying and expanding our clean energy sources will usher in a new era of energy independence that makes the grid more resilient, curbs the climate crisis, and saves Americans money on their energy bills.”
Waves are created when wind blows over the surface of open water in the ocean, and this movement results in a substantial amount of natural energy. Wave energy converters, which capture and convert waves into carbon-free electricity, require testing in realistic conditions to be deployed at scale. Obstacles to testing in the open ocean include permitting challenges and a scarcity of available test sites.
In 2016, DOE partnered with Oregon State University to build the PacWave South test facility, which will be the nation’s first accredited, grid-connected, pre-permitted, open-water wave energy test facility.
The selected projects are part of DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office “Advancing Wave Energy Technologies through Open Water Testing at PacWave” funding opportunity to support wave energy technologies through research, development, and eventual deployment.
The eight projects focus on:
Testing wave energy converter designs for use in geographically remote areas or on small, local energy grids.
–CalWave Power Technologies Inc. (Oakland, CA) (Award amount: $7,500,000)
–Columbia Power Technologies Inc. (Charlottesville, VA) (Award amount: $4,182,275)
Developing wave energy converter designs that can be either connected to or disconnected from the electricity grid.
–Dehlsen Associates, LLC (Santa Barbara, CA) (Award amount: $1,800,000)
–Oscilla Power Inc. (Seattle, WA) (Award amount: $1,800,000)
Performing research and development at PacWave related to environmental monitoring technologies, instrumentation systems that operators use to control wave energy converters, and other technologies.
–Integral Consulting (Seattle, WA) (Award amount: $379,329)
–Littoral Power Systems, Inc. (New Bedford, MA) (Award amount: $3,976,401)
–Portland State University (Portland, OR) (Award amount: $4,507,330)
— University of Washington (Seattle, WA) (Award amount: $1,299,689)
“Wave energy is an essential piece of the strategy to combat the climate crisis, and
I’m gratified that Oregon State University, Portland State University and our state will play a central role in developing this energy source to its full potential,” said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). “I look forward very much to what the innovative minds at both OSU and PSU as well as elsewhere develop with these projects that put our country on the path to a clean energy future.”
— CBB, March 11, 2021, FERC ISSUES OSU LICENSE FOR NATION’S FIRST WAVE ENERGY TESTING FACILITY https://www.cbbulletin.com/ferc-issues-osu-license-for-nations-first-wave-energy-testing-facility/
— CBB, Feb. 26, 2021, FEDS AWARD OSU LEASE FOR NATION’S FIRST WAVE ENERGY TESTING FACILITY: $80 MILLION PROJECT OFF NEWPORT https://www.cbbulletin.com/feds-award-osu-lease-for-nations-first-wave-energy-testing-facility-80-million-project-off-newport/