Newport chosen for wave-to-grid energy test site

NEWPORT – A new, grid-connected facility to test whether energy from the ocean waves can provide power to the electrical supply grid will be located off the shore of Newport, the Northwest Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC) announced Monday.

Ocean Sentinel energy test platformThe OSU-based center, funded by the US Department of Energy, had been evaluating bids from Newport and from Reedsport, on the south coast, for the site of the multi-million-dollar testing facility.

“Both communities were committed to finding a home for PMEC,” said Kaety Hildenbrand of Oregon Sea Grant, coordinator of the site team process. “They spoke to their own strengths and demonstrated their unique assets.”

The Pacific Marine Energy Center, or PMEC, will test the generation potential and environmental impacts of wave energy devices at an ocean site about five miles from shore. Sub-sea cables will transmit energy from the wave energy devices to the local power grid, and data to scientists and engineers at on-shore facilities.

The first installment of funding for PMEC was received in September, 2012, consisting of $4 million from the Department of Energy, along with a non-federal cost match.

Newport is already home to a smaller-scale NNMREC energy testing platform, not connected to the power grid, installed offshore north of Yaquina Head last summer. A partnership between OSU and University of Washington, focused on wave and tidal energy respectively, NNMREC also supports intermediate scale device testing in Puget Sound and Lake Washington. PMEC is expected to complete the Center’s test facilities in the Pacific Northwest.

Oregon Sea Grant supported pioneering research on the potential for generating energy from ocean waves by OSU researchers Annette Von Jouanne and the late Alan Wallace as early as 2003. The program continues to be involved in coastal planning and public engagement in marine renewable energy siting decisions, and Sea Grant Extension specialists  have conducted and published research exploring the human dimensions of wave energy.