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Bipartisan Group of Pacific Northwest Senators Pushes for Pioneering U.S. Wave Energy Test Facility

Site for offshore grid connected wind energy farm proposed.  Funding sought. Courtesy photo

Site for offshore grid connected wind energy farm proposed. Funding sought.
Courtesy photo

A group of northwest U.S.Senators, including Sen. Ron Wyden, have urged the Department of Energy (DOE) to support the construction of the United States’ first open-ocean, power grid-connected wave energy test facility at a site about seven miles off the Oregon coast.

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 have applied for a competitive, cost-shared federal funding award worth up to $40 million to build the wave energy test site near Newport, Ore.

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.

“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 senators wrote in a letter today to DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz.

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.

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.

The grant award decision is expected later this year.

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