Catching a Wave: Oregon Wave Energy Development Moves Ahead

Oregon’s wave energy development efforts are gaining national attention, and last month federal regulators approved deploying up to 10 wave energy buoys two and a half miles off the central Oregon Coast near Reedsport. Ocean Power Technologies also announced the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had granted them a 35-year license.


The license is FERC’s first for a wave power station in the United States, the New Jersey-based company said. Early this month, the New York Timespublished a story on the Reedsport project which will use a wave energy buoy constructed by Clackamas-based Oregon Iron Works, Inc., which Business Oregon has a longstanding partnership with.

Once deployed, the buoys will generate about 1.5 megawatts, enough to power about 1,000 homes. Ocean Power said it expects to deploy the initial buoy this year.

In addition, Oregon wave energy developer M3 Wave will get a boost from Oregon Innovation Council initiatives Oregon BEST and the Oregon Wave Energy Trust to develop a device that produces energy while sitting 50 to 100 feet deep on the ocean floor. The grant will help the Salem company commercialize technology that stays out of the way and out of sight.

Finally, another project backed by OWET has hit the water for testing. The device, known as the WETNZ buoy, was developed through a partnership between Northwest Energy Innovations (which was formed in 2010 as a subsidiary of Portland-based Pacific Energy Ventures), the U.S. DOE and the New Zealand government.

Sustainable Business Oregon reported that the buoy entered the water in August, the first to be tested by the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center’s open ocean test facility near Newport. The device is connected by underwater cable to the test center’s instrumentation buoy to collect power-generation data.

The buoy itself was built from some parts shipped from New Zealand with others built by Oregon Iron Works. It was assembled at the Port of Toledo. The Oregon Wave Energy Trust contributed funding to the project through a $50,000 feasibility study grant awarded in 2010 and a $65,000 commercialization grant following the U.S. DOE contract award.