U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley joined senators from Washington and Alaska urging the Department of Energy to support the construction of the United States’ first open-ocean, power grid-connected wave energy test facility at a site off the Oregon coast. The senators wrote in support of The senators wrote in support of a partnership made up of Oregon State University, the University of Washington and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, along with other renewable energy partners, that has applied for a competitive, cost-shared federal funding award worth up to $40 million to build the wave energy test site near Newport.
If awarded the funding, the Newport-based site would be the first open-water test facility for wave power connected directly to the electric energy grid in the U.S. For a full-scale wave energy resource, the Pacific Marine Energy Center or PMEC South Energy Test Site is a grid-connected site currently under development and will serve as the utility-scale wave energy test facility for the US; it is expected to be available for device testing by next year.
In the letter to DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz the senators stated that this project is critical to advancing the ability to capture and utilize the abundant marine and freshwater renewable energy resources found in our nation’s waves, currents, and tides. The clean, renewable energy found in waves and tidal currents holds the potential to deliver up to one-third of the nation’s electricity needs. The funding award would allow the universities to build infrastructure, such as undersea cables, which private companies would then use to test their wave and tidal current energy innovations in real conditions. Companies seeking to test their designs at the site would not have to go through separate permitting and installation processes – lowering the cost and speeding up the process for developing new wave energy technologies, while bringing business and jobs to the area.