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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

News From My Backyard: Oregon Gets National Press for Wave Energy Development Efforts

Oregon's efforts to develop the first utility-scale wave energy facility in North America and become the capital of the nascent wave energy industry got some national press coverage this week. MSNB devoted some ink to Oregon wave energy efforts in an article on Monday.

In July, Ocean Power Technologies (OPT), known for its PowerBuoy wave energy device, filed an application for construction permission to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a 50-megawatt (MW) wave power generation project in Oregon, the first request in the U.S. for such a power project on a utility-scale level [see previous post].

OPT plans to initially install a 2 MW pilot-scale project 2.5 miles off the coast of Reedsport, Oregon. Approval for the full-scale 50 MW wave power plant will follow completion of the initial 2 MW program.

Meanwhile, the Oregon Department of Energy and Oregon State University, with strong backing from Governor Ted Kulongoski, are seeking funding for a national wave energy research facility on the Oregon coast, in and around Newport, Oregon [see previous post]. Governor Kulongoski has repeatedly stated that he plans to make Oregon the wave energy capital of North America, if not the world.

Oregon's efforts haven't gone unnoticed, it appears, as this MSNBC/Associate Press article indicates:

Wave energy buoys proposed for the Oregon coast could generate enough electricity to power about 2,000 homes, supporters say.

Ocean Power Technologies has installed smaller, single test buoys in Hawaii and New Jersey. But the larger buoys proposed for Oregon would be arrayed in four rows of 50 for a total of 200, requiring about 1.5 square miles of ocean, according to company consultant Steve Kopf.

"Nobody's ever done this before," Port of Umpqua Commissioner Keith Tymchuk said during a recent hearing on the proposal. "Nowhere in the United States has there been a project like this permitted before."

The meeting was part of the requirements for a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license application by Ocean Power.

The port and other Reedsport and Douglas County officials and state agencies have been working with wave energy companies and Oregon State University for more than a year to develop a buoy park off the coast at Gardiner.

One of the key advantages of the Gardiner site is the former International Paper mill site that has an effluent pipe that stretches underground to the ocean and an electricity substation already on site.

More importantly, Kopf said, is that the easements for that pipe already are in place.

Oregon isn't the only state seeking renewable energy sources. California also is seeking alternative energy projects, Kopf said, but Oregon, and Reedsport in particular, has several advantages over California.

The abundance of waves is excellent, Oregon offers more financial incentives and, most importantly, there was significant momentum and public support for the project, Kopf said.

"We're here because we think Oregon and specifically this part of the coast, wants this type of project," Kopf said.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski also supports the project. He has organized a team to help streamline the licensing and development process, headed by Tymchuk and state Sen. Joanne Verger, D-Coos Bay.

Kopf said there has been some concern about the loss of fishing area in the wave park.

"But we're trying to find a balance," said Oregon Department of Energy spokesman Justin Klure.
I've been remiss and haven't been keeping tabs over at Treehugger recently, but it looks like they have run a number of posts on ocean energy which are worth checking out:

  • Wave Power Update: Retrospective - Oct 17th, 2006

  • Wave Energy Parks Could be Coming to Oregon - May 30th, 2006

  • Wave Power: Spotlight on Ocean Power Delivery, Ltd. - Oct 10th, 2006

  • Wave Power - Alternative Energy Available Today - April 11th, 2005

  • Treehugger Picks: Wave and Tidal Power - May 31st, 2006

  • First "Wave Farm" Announced - May 23rd, 2005

  • Happy reading!

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