U.S. senators support wave energy test facility off Oregon

U.S. senators Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley, Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan have urged the Department of Energy (DOE) to support the construction of the United States’ open-ocean, power grid-connected wave energy test facility at a site off the Oregon coast.

The senators wrote in support of Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC), 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 cost-shared federal funding award worth up to $40 million to build the wave energy test site near Newport, Oregon.

NNMREC would build upon existing DOE investments to construct a grid connected test facility for utility scale wave energy converters (WECs) at the Pacific Marine Energy Center South Energy Test Site (PMEC-SETS).

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 to DOE secretary Ernest Moniz.

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.

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