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Power Wave

Thanks to a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy, Oregon State University and the private sector, wave energy is moving out of the lab and into the ocean.

Thanks to a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy, Oregon State University and the private sector, wave energy is moving out of the lab and into the ocean. And none too soon. In the race for carbon-free sources of electricity, this one may make a real difference for Oregon and the nation. There are still plenty of questions to answer (such as access to fishing grounds and impacts on whales and other aspects of the marine ecosystem), but as two recent videos produced by Green Science Oregon show, wave energy devices are already under construction and getting ready for deployment.

A crew on OSU's research vessel Pacific Storm deployed this wave energy test buoy off Newport, Ore.

Engineering professors Annette von Jouanne and Ted Brekken and their team, including Columbia Power Technologies, Inc., (CPT) have identified more than a dozen promising direct-drive wave energy buoy designs. In the linear test bed in the university’s energy systems lab, they have tested the top five for durability and efficiency.

In the Green Science Oregon program, Von Jouanne is joined by representatives of CPT, Oregon Iron Works and Ocean Power Technologies, which is planning to install North America’s first commercial buoy array off Reedsport, Ore. next year. “Oregon State’s program is the center of gravity for wave power here in the U.S.,” says Reenst Lesemann of CPT.

Studies under way at OSU are coordinated through the Northwest National Marine Renewable Center in Newport, Ore. Funding has come from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Oregon State Legislature  and other partners.

By Nick Houtman

Nick Houtman is director of research communications at OSU and edits Terra, a world of research and creativity at Oregon State University. He has experience in weekly and daily print journalism and university science writing. A native Californian, he lived in Wisconsin and Maine before arriving in Corvallis in 2005.

2 replies on “Power Wave”

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has estimated wave energy costs to drop below 10 cents per kWh if there is large scale development. More detailed information can be found in the document

Renewable Energy Technical Assessment Guide— TAG-RE: 2006

which can be found on the EPRI website.

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