DOE Picks First Marine Energy Projects for PacWave Test Site in Oregon
Eight ocean energy projects representing the first round of open-water testing at the 20-MW PacWave South wave energy test site off the Oregon coast have garnered a combined $25 million in federal funding to support technology research, development, and demonstration at the trailblazing facility.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) on Jan 25 announced the project selections as part of its “Advancing Wave Energy Technologies through Open Water Testing at PacWave.” The project selections are notable because they are among the first at an actual open-water test facility that is dedicated to accelerating wave energy technology to commercial viability.
PacWave South: Pioneering Testing in Open Ocean Conditions
“Waves are created when wind blows over the surface of open water in the ocean, and this movement results in a large amount of natural energy,” explained WTOP. To capture this energy and convert it to carbon-free electricity, researchers use WECs, but “advancing wave energy converters requires testing in realistic conditions,” it noted. “However, testing in the open ocean is difficult due to permitting challenges and the few available test sites.”
PacWave South is one of two test areas located off the Pacific Coast near Newport, Oregon. PacWave North, already an established site for small-scale prototype and maritime market technologies, is sited two miles off the coast in shallower waters and closer to port than PacWave South. PacWave South, whose construction began on June 2021, is sited seven miles off the coast on the outer continental shelf in the Pacific Ocean. When completed in 2023, the open ocean test site will consist of four berths, which will occupy two square nautical miles of ocean with a cable route to shore of approximately 12 miles in length.
The site is permitted for the testing of up to 20 wave energy converters at the four berths, allowing different technologies to be tested at the same time. The total facility will have a maximum power output of up to 20 MW. Each berth will have a dedicated, 5-MW-capable power and data cable connection to the utility connection and monitoring facility on the shore.
Construction on PacWave South began on June 2021. The nation’s “first accredited, grid-connected, pre-permitted, open-water wave energy test facility” is sited 7 miles off the coast on the outer continental shelf in the Pacific Ocean. When completed in 2023, the open ocean test site will consist of four berths, which will occupy two square nautical miles of ocean with a cable route to shore of approximately 12 miles in length. Courtesy: PacWave
PacWave South stems from a 2016 competitive $35 million award by the DOE to Oregon State University (OSU) to permit, design, build, and operate the open-water wave energy test facility. In March 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted a license to build and operate the facility, culminating “an unprecedented regulatory process that spanned nearly 10 years,” OSU said. According to WPTO, when completed PacWave South will be the nation’s “first accredited, grid-connected, pre-permitted, open-water wave energy test facility.”
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