US$40 million available for the first open-ocean, grid-connected U.S. wave energy test facility

PMEC Test Center

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Patty Murray, D-Wash., today announced funding will be awarded to build the United States’ first open-ocean, power grid-connected wave energy test facility at a site off the Oregon coast, according to a U.S. Senate press release.

The U.S. Department of Energy will provide up to US$40 million to build the wave energy test site about six nautical miles off the coast of Newport, Ore. A partnership made up of Oregon State University, the University of Washington, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and renewable energy innovators applied for the federal funding earlier this year. The senators, along with Sens. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., urged the Energy Department to award the funding to the Newport site in an October letter.

"This is great news for OSU and its partners and will launch a new level of local job creation and clean energy innovation,” Wyden said. “Oregon will use this opportunity to build on its solid position nationally and internationally as a leader in renewable wave energy."

“This is a huge success story for Oregon State University, and I thank the Department of Energy for helping us harness the enormous potential of wave energy off the Oregon coast,” Merkley said. “This test facility will make Oregon the leader in bringing wave energy to the United States, which will create good-paying local jobs, and strengthen our coastal economies.”

"Given the important role that current and wave energy innovation can play in Alaska's energy future, it is great news that a consortium of universities, including the University of Alaska Fairbanks, has been awarded with this opportunity to test and develop marine hydrokinetic devices,” Murkowski said. “This should help advance renewable energy technologies that hold great promise for our coastal communities."

“This is an exciting step forward for the Pacific Northwest, which continues to be a leader in developing renewable energy sources,” Murray said. “This investment has the potential to create jobs and move our country away from the devastating effects of fossil fuels, while also ensuring minimal impacts to the environment and existing uses.”

The funding award will allow the universities to build infrastructure, such as open-water test berths and undersea cables, which private companies would then use to test their wave and tidal current energy innovations. Companies seeking to test their designs at the site will not have to undergo 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.

The Newport-based site will be the first open-water test facility for wave power connected directly to the power grid in the U.S.

The clean, renewable energy found in waves and tidal currents holds the potential to deliver up to one-third of our nation’s electricity needs, according to the DOE.

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