Wave energy advocates set funding, Newport grid date goals

OWET's Jason Busch and other wave energy advocates believe a utility-scale grid near Newport could be hooked up in 2016.
Cathy Cheney

OWET's Jason Busch and other wave energy advocates believe a utility-scale grid near Newport could be hooked up in 2016.

The Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center is seeking additional funding to wire its deepwater wave-testing site with electricity.

The Center’s leaders also said this week they believe 2016 will be the year wave energy developers can begin to wade into Oregon’s waters for the first utility-scale, grid-connected test site in the country.

Oregon set aside 22 square miles over four sites for wave energy development through its Territorial Sea Plan last year. However, a statewide moratorium on ocean development is still in place pending the governor’s nod on removing it.

The last legislative session saw Oregon lawmakers jockeying for safeguards first, approving a bill to make ocean energy developers responsible for cleaning up after projects. A second bill also mandated a study of how ocean transmission will be owned, regulated, and managed in Oregon, according to Jason Busch, executive director of the Oregon Wave Energy Trust.

Meanwhile, researchers from the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, the federally funded wave energy research center based at Oregon State University, are working toward wiring a grid-connected test site about 5 miles offshore from Newport. The site is designed for deepwater testing by ocean energy developers and is one of two in-water testing sites that are part of the center’s Pacific Marine Energy Center’s testing facilities.

The effort received $4 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy in January to begin the work, along with match funding from entities including OWET, Portland General Electric, Pacific Energy Ventures, Oregon BEST and other private sources.

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