The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is assessing whether there is competitive interest in wave energy research or development in an area of federal waters offshore Oregon where the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Oregon State University (NNMREC-OSU) proposes to site a hydrokinetic energy facility to test utility-scale wave energy devices.
BOEM will publish the “Notice of Potential Research Lease on the Outer Continental Shelf Offshore Oregon, Request for Competitive Interest” in the Federal Register on March 24, initiating a 30-day public comment period during which expressions of interest in the proposed lease area will be accepted. BOEM also seeks public comment on the hydrokinetic facility proposal, its potential environmental consequences and the use of the area in which the proposed project would be located. The notice will enable BOEM to determine whether it is appropriate to issue a lease to NNMREC-OSU on a non-competitive basis, or whether a competitive process is required.
BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau said that this “announcement marks an important milestone in siting a national grid-connected research facility to support the testing of commercial-scale marine hydrokinetic devices.”
NNMREC-OSU proposes to develop and deploy its Pacific Marine Energy Center – South Energy Test Site as a facility for developers to test utility-scale wave energy devices at four test berths, with a connection to the mainland electric grid via a subsea cable.
The project is designed to support up to 10 megawatts (MW) of electricity generation from individual devices and small-scale arrays. The facility would be located about four nautical miles offshore Newport, Oregon in water depths ranging from 180-230 feet. The Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center is one of three national centers supported by the Department of Energy to facilitate the development of marine renewable energy technology with research, education and outreach.
The Electric Power Research Institute estimates that the total technically recoverable wave energy resource along the U.S. coast to be 1,170 terawatts a year (TWh/yr), which is almost one third of the 4,000 TWh of electricity used in the United States each year. The potential of just 1 TWh/yr of energy will supply around 93,850 average U.S. homes with power annually. The recoverable wave energy resource for the West Coast is estimated at 250 TWh/year.
Press release, March 24, 2014; Image: boem