Developer sees license filing for 1-MW Makah Bay Wave Energy

AquaEnergy Group Ltd. has completed a draft environmental assessment for filing with a license application to build and operate the 1-MW Makah Bay Wave Energy pilot project. AquaEnergy said filing of its license application was imminent.

AquaEnergy commissioned the environmental assessment as part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s alternative licensing process, which promotes collaboration with stakeholders and ensures coordinated analysis of project effects. The company is the only ocean technology applicant to request alternative procedures to prepare a license application.

Devine Tarbell &Associates prepared the environmental assessment, which concluded the project would have no significant effect on the environment.

The Makah Bay Wave Energy pilot project (DI02-3) is proposed for a 625-foot by 450-foot area of water in depths of about 150 feet, about 3.7 miles off of Hobuck Beach in Makah Bay, Clallam County, Wash. The site is three miles southwest of the community of Neah Bay. The mechanical portion of the project will consist of four of AquaEnergy’s 250-kW moored wave energy converters called AquaBuOYs.

A consortium of public and private agencies is involved in the project to demonstrate the economic, environmental, and tribal benefits of offshore wave energy. Consortium members include: AquaEnergy Group, a subsidiary of Finavera Renewables Ltd.; Makah Tribal Council; Washington State University Energy Program; Clallam County Economic Development Center; Clallam County Public Utility District; and Washington Public Utilities Districts Association.

AquaEnergy Group identified additional team members for marine, mechanical, or electrical research: University of Washington, Oregon State University, Northwest National Lab, Battelle Marine Services Lab, Evans-Hamilton Inc., Parametrix Inc., Thales GeoSolutions (Pacific), and Sound and Sea Technologies.

AquaEnergy also is developing the 2-MW Figuera da Foz wave energy project off the coast of Portugal. (HNN 8/11/06) In September, Finavera announced plans to build a 20-MW wave energy power plant off the coast of South Africa. (HNN 9/26/06)

Multiple developers pursue U.S. ocean sites

Although AquaEnergy is the only ocean developer to request alternative licensing procedures, FERC has issued 11 preliminary permits allowing applicants to study other wave, tidal, or ocean current sites. FERC ruled in another case that a license would be required if an ocean technology applicant is to proceed with development. In addition, 38 other permit applications to study ocean-based projects are pending.

An Internet site established by FERC lists the applications: www.ferc.gov/industries/hydropower/indus-act/tidal-energy-permits.asp.

It is not necessary for a developer to obtain a preliminary permit to apply for, or receive, a license. However, a permit enables a developer to maintain priority for a site while studying the site and preparing to apply for a license.

FERC previously announced plans for a Dec. 6 technical conference on the status of ocean-based technologies. Participants at that meeting also will explore environmental, financial, and regulatory issues related to the development of the new technologies, FERC said. (HNN 9/18/06)

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