CORVALLIS — Culminating five years of work, Oregon State University has submitted a 1,000-page plan that outlines construction and operation details of a wave energy test site off the Oregon coast, along with measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate any potential environmental effects. The project is designed to allow commercial wave energy developers the opportunity to test different technologies for harnessing the untapped energy of ocean waves.
Submitting the draft license application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an independent agency that regulates the transmission of electricity, opens a 90-day public comment period on this effort. The draft license application is a key component of a $35 million grant that Oregon State University received in December 2016 from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop and build-out the site. The project has also received financial support from the State of Oregon.
“Submitting the draft license application is an important milestone for this project,” said Burke Hales, the chief scientist for the project and a professor in Oregon State’s College of Ocean, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences. “It represents five years of work by a dedicated group of more than 40 partners from federal, state and community groups, including the Fishermen Involved in Natural Energy (FINE), who represent the local fishing interests.”
The test site will be located about seven miles west of Seal Rock, which is between Newport and Waldport on the Oregon coast. It will be the first pre-permitted full-scale, utility grid-connected wave energy test site in the United States.
The test site will be connected with cables to a shoreside facility where electricity generated by the wave energy converters will be “conditioned” and fed onto the local utility distribution system. The ocean test site will accommodate up to 20 wave energy converters with a peak capacity to generate as much as 20 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power about 20,000 homes when operating at full capacity.
After the public comment period is over, Oregon State University will address concerns that are raised and finalize project plans. They then expect to submit a final license application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in late 2018.
The test site project is housed within Oregon State University’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS), an internationally recognized, comprehensive earth system science program which has expertise across coastal oceanography and collaborative research programs that span basic science, engineering, policy and practice.