Wave energy researchers pick Oregon Coast test site
By Christina Williams
Editor, Sustainable Business Oregon
Oregon got another boost to its wave energy expertise Wednesday with the news that a site off the coast near Newport was selected for a new wave energy test program that's the first of its kind in the United States.
The decision on the site was made by officials from the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, a collaborative research effort of Oregon State University and the University of Washington that began in 2008. It adds to Oregon's already attractive array of services for wave energy companies looking to develop products.
The site is about one square mile and lies two miles northwest of Yaquina Head. The water there is exposed to unobstructed waves that have traveled thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean. Public comments on the proposal for the site are still being collected through Oregon's Department of State Lands, but if the site is approved it will be available for wave energy testing as early as this fall.
Meleah Ashford, program manager for NNMREC, said the process of identifying the site has been going on for two years. She said there are a number of companies interested in using the site for testing, including Neptune Wave Power.
There are a handful of similar sites in Europe, mainly in the United Kingdom, such as Wave Hub off the coast of England. Ocean Power Technologies, which announced Wednesday a passel of contracts with Oregon companies to support its Oregon wave energy project, uses a private site in Hawaii to test its technology. The Oregon site, which won't be connected to the grid, will be available to qualified developers. NNMREC will charge a fee — not yet determined — for the site and any services.
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