New Wave Energy Test Center for Oregon
Oregon State University’s Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center has been awarded up to $40 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to create the world’s premier wave energy test facility in Newport.
The facility, known as the Pacific Marine Energy Center South Energy Test Site is planned to be operational by 2020. It will be able to test wave energy converters that harness the energy of ocean waves and turn it into electricity. Companies around the world are already anticipating construction of the new facility to test and perfect their technologies, university officials say.
Professor Belinda Batten says wave energy technologies are complex and expensive. “These devices have to perform in hostile ocean conditions; stand up to a 100-year storm; be energy efficient, durable, environmentally benign – and perhaps most important, cost-competitive with other energy sources. This facility will help answer all of those questions, and is literally the last step before commercialization.”
The Department of Energy award is subject to appropriations, federal officials said today, and will be used to design, permit, and construct an open-water, grid-connected national wave energy testing facility. It will include four grid-connected test berths.
In making the award, the agency noted that more than 50 percent of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of coastlines, offering America the potential to develop a domestic wave energy industry that could help provide reliable power to coastal regions.
Studies have estimated that even if only a small portion of the energy available from waves is recovered, millions of homes could be powered.