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Archive for Community

A local newspaper, the Lincoln County Dispatch, has published an excellent wrap-up of NNMREC’s past and future (projected) as it was explained by NNMREC Director Belinda Batten (pictured below) to a public open-house last Thursday in Newport, Oregon. We did notice that Reporter Larry Coonrod was asking Belinda a lot of questions! Anyone who missed our open-house should check out his article!

PMEC Open House in Newport, OR, 22 May 2014

Article in Lincoln County Dispatch

under: Community, PMEC

A Wave Energy Partnership

Posted by: | January 25, 2013 | 3 Comments |

(Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from Oregon State University Advantage.)

Harnessing Wave Power through a Winning University-Industry Partnership

At Oregon State University’s O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory, a small yellow buoy with several bright red lights bobs up and down in the mechanically created waves. Although it may not look like much to the casual observer, the apparatus is a test model for a next-generation device intended to capture energy from the continual movement of the ocean. Rigorous testing of this model is necessary before researchers begin assessing much larger units off the Oregon Coast.

The new wave-power technology was made possible by a unique partnership between Oregon State University and Columbia Power Technologies. “Columbia Power Technologies is an example of a long-term partnership where the company has advanced their technologies through work with OSU,” said Belinda

Batten, director of the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC). “It has licensed some of Oregon State’s intellectual property and several students have graduated and gone on into this industry. That, for us is a real success.”

From a broad perspective of economic development, university-industry partnerships make good sense, but collaborating with academia is a new concept for most companies. The Oregon State–Columbia Power partnership provides a case study that illuminates the benefits when industry and academia join forces.


under: Community
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CORVALLIS, Ore.  – The Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, or NNMREC, which is based at Oregon State University, has chosen Newport, Ore., as the future site of the first utility-scale, grid-connected wave energy test site in the United States – the Pacific Marine Energy Center.

The Pacific Marine Energy Center, or PMEC, will test energy generation potential and environmental impacts of wave energy devices, at an ocean site about five miles from shore. Subsea 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 U.S. Department of Energy, along with a non-federal cost match.

“PMEC represents a major step toward the development of energy from Oregon’s ocean waters,” said Jason Busch of the Oregon Wave Energy Trust. “I’m certain that Oregon will reap benefits from PMEC for many years to come, and the research and development performed at PMEC will help usher in this new form of reliable electricity from the sea.”

PMEC design and specific site characterization will begin soon, along with the permitting and regulatory process. NNMREC will continue to work with a variety of partners to develop additional funding sources. The exact ocean location for the PMEC site will be finalized in the next few months in a zone that has been selected in collaboration with ocean stakeholders – an area that will not impede shipping lanes and takes environmental impacts into consideration.

The Pacific Marine Energy Center will have four “test berths,” open spaces of water dedicated to testing individual devices or small arrays of devices, each of which will be connected to the community’s electrical grid. It will also collect data associated with environmental and human dimension impacts. Completion will take several years.

“This site selection builds on the global reputation of Oregon State University in both renewable energy research and marine science,” said Rick Spinrad, OSU vice president for research. “Future research results from this site will help ensure our state’s leadership in these critical areas.”

The development and operation of this facility will provide jobs and other economic development as it attracts researchers and device developers to the Oregon coast from around the world, officials said. While under development, the Ocean Sentinel, NNMREC’s mobile ocean test buoy platform operating out of Toledo, will continue its work testing energy devices at its ocean test site north of Yaquina Head.

Advances in wave power technology are also one example of the growing partnerships between OSU and private industry. The university just announced a major new initiative, the Oregon State University Advantage, which includes such programs as the OSU Venture Accelerator and the Industry Partnering Program. It’s expected to help create 20 new businesses within the next five years while enhancing student education and Oregon’s economic growth.

In an extensive site selection process, NNMREC worked with four coastal communities to consider both technical criteria and community resources.  The options were narrowed last fall to Reedsport and Newport, the two communities that best matched the needed criteria for PMEC. Site selection teams from those communities submitted proposals in December.

The selection was ultimately based on ocean site characteristics, marine and on-shore cable routes, port and industry capabilities, impacts to existing ocean users, permitting challenges, stakeholder participation in the proposal process, and support of the local fishing communities.

“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.”

Belinda Batten, director of NNMREC, said the communities were similar in their capacities and capabilities, and the final choice focused on making PMEC a global competitor among international test facilities. All coastal communities will benefit from the growth of this industry on the Oregon coast, she said.

The Oregon Wave Energy Trust has supported PMEC and helped create a wave energy development regulatory process that meshes the needs of ocean stakeholders and the state. The agency has also helped address key points in Gov. Kitzhaber’s 10-year energy plan, including how wave energy is integrated into Oregon’s power grid while maintaining high environmental standards.

NNMREC is a partnership between OSU and University of Washington, focused on wave and tidal energy respectively, and receives a substantial part of its funding from U.S. Department of Energy. NNMREC operates a non-grid connected wave energy testing facility in Newport north of Yaquina Head and supports intermediate scale device testing in Puget Sound and Lake Washington. PMEC will complete the wave energy device test facilities.

under: Community, Ocean Testing, PMEC
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By Kaety Hildenbrand, Oregon Sea Grant

(Editor’s Note: Kaety Hildenbrand works with the commercial fishing industry, ocean users, researchers, and the marine energy industry to address a variety of ocean issues ranging from collaborative research to wave energy development. She plays a critical role with NNMREC outreach and engagement.)

I have been attempting to write this blog post for the past week. Writing about stakeholder outreach and engagement in marine renewable energy should be easy enough; it’s what I do for a living. But, my mind is elsewhere, it’s with Oregon’s commercial Dungeness crab fleet.

As I am writing this, we are in the first hours of the 2012 commercial Dungeness crab season. Statistically this is the most profitable time for the fleet, and the most dangerous. At this very moment, many vessels are stuck in the ocean as the Yaquina Bay bar is too dangerous to cross. One vessel lost its wheelhouse windows trying to get in. Luckily it was only the windows that didn’t make it; the crew and vessel are home safe. My phone is three inches from my keyboard, waiting for the call that the bar has improved and that our vessels are making it in, or for the other kind of call, the ones I hate, the one that means someone isn’t coming home. I get at least one of those a year. It’s the one part of working with fishermen that I hate.

There are different ways of working with stakeholders, but if you do it right, you too will be lamenting with worry  over whatever it is the people you build a relationship with face. This is the real truth of working with ocean stakeholders, the piece that you never see in a publication on “working with stakeholders”, which is why I am deciding to leave the above piece in.

Oregon Fisherman (Photo by Oregon Sea Grant/Pat Kight)

There are all kinds of methods and best practices on the subject, I’ve even put my two cents in on some of those pieces, but what it really comes down to is a connection, a trust, a relationship. I can name fishermen in each port that I have worked with on wave energy issues. But, that isn’t what’s important, not really. What’s important is that I can tell you their wife’s name, how many kids they have, the name of their dog, I can describe the inside of their vessels, tell you what kind of truck they drive, and what kind of drink they order at Starbucks. They could do the same for me. I didn’t need to know any of this, I wasn’t asked to find it out, and I didn’t do it to gain something. It’s part of building a true relationship with someone, its part of doing what’s right, its part of what happens when you focus on building trust and not getting buy-in. I work with some people who hate the idea of marine renewable energy, but I still have a relationship with them. They’ll pester me with negative perspective for the duration of our time together, and then give me a hug before I leave. Just thinking of those times and people makes me smile. They mark the path of doing what’s right. Of focusing on people, not problems, of working with those that agree and those that do not. The fishermen on their boats right now, risking their lives to bring us crab, are partners, collaborators, and friends. Part of an intricate tapestry of people, culture, and lives that have become NNMREC’s story.

I have had 8 years of this work and I can honestly say I have enjoyed every minute of it – well almost. There are many memories burned into a deep place in my brain and heart. I’ll never forget watching the Fishermen Involved in Natural Energy (FINE) committee draw on a NOAA chart with a Sharpie pen, the space which would eventually become NNMREC’s open ocean test berth.  A big step for NNMREC, OSU, Oregon, and the nation took place that day, at a table filled with fishermen, each with a paper plate filled with pie in their hand.

(Photo by Oregon Sea Grant/Pat Kight)

NNMREC’s story isn’t just about fishermen. No it goes far beyond that. It’s county commissioners and mayors,  senators and congressman, scientists and ocean managers, a family at the HMSC visitor center, students at Newport High School, people who read the newspaper,  and a whole lot of other folks I’m not mentioning. NNMREC has been built by people engaging with it, in it, for it. For all of you reading this that have been a piece of this story, thank you for that. Thank you for being a piece of OSU’s wave energy story, of NNMREC’s story, and of mine. I look forward to continuing the journey with all of you and with those of you that are yet to come to the table.


under: Community
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A large portion of the marine energy community gathered in Portland, Ore., last week for the Ocean Renewable Energy Conference, hosted by the Oregon Wave Energy Trust (OWET).

The event, while positive and motivational for the industry, assured everyone that wave and tidal renewable energy solutions still have challenges to overcome before they can be utilized effectively to power the world. One of these challenges is stakeholder negotiations.

Oregon fisherman Nick Edwards, who is also a SOORC and OWET board member, was the lone representative from the commercial fishing industry attending the conference. Commercial fishing is a vital component of the Oregon economy and possesses one of the largest stakeholder groups in ocean energy development. Edwards spoke during a panel discussion, “The Art and Practice of Negotiating with Ocean Energy Stakeholders,” and moved people while doing so.

Part of NNMREC’s mission is to involve ocean stakeholders during planning and implementation of ocean energy testing facilities. As a fervent supporter of stakeholder outreach and education, NNMREC is happy to be able to present Edwards’ original panel speech: Read More…

under: Community