DOE funding $27 million to accelerate ocean wave energy technology to market

PacWave South site

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced up to $27 million in federal funding for research and development projects to convert energy more efficiently from ocean waves into carbon-free electricity.

This funding opportunity aims to advance wave energy technologies toward commercial viability and supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to build a clean energy economy that will create good-paying jobs and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Oregon is helping lead the nation in our efforts to harness the unlimited energy potential in America’s oceans and lakes,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “With wave energy, we have the opportunity to add more renewable power to the grid and deploy more sustainable energy to hard-to-reach communities. DOE’s investments in America’s businesses and universities developing these new technologies will propel our clean energy future.”

Testing wave energy converters (WEC) in the open ocean is difficult due to permitting challenges and the few available test sites. In 2016, DOE partnered with Oregon State University to build the PacWave South test facility off the coast of Newport, Ore. This site will be the nation’s first accredited, grid-connected, pre-permitted, open-water wave energy test facility. 

The R&D and testing performed under the “Advancing Wave Energy Technologies through Open Water Testing at PacWave” funding opportunity announcement (FOA) will be the first round of activities supported at the PacWave South test site. Work performed under this FOA will also produce open-access data that will benefit the entire WEC R&D community. This data will include wave, wind and ocean current resource measurements, geotechnical measurements, and environmental monitoring measurements that will help improve future WEC system designs for PacWave and reduce the costs of future deployments.

“The ocean covers more than 70 percent of the surface of our planet, and we can capture the power of its waves, currents, and tides to help power our homes, buildings, and communities. As we transition to a 100 percent clean energy economy, marine energy has tremendous potential as one of the last untapped renewable energy sources. Federal investment will help unlock it. This funding for research, development, and demonstration efforts at the PacWave testing facility will catalyze this promising industry and build on the innovation of Oregon State researchers and Oregon employers,” said U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici.

The projects will use the PacWave South facility to research technologies and processes to more efficiently convert wave energy and integrate the renewable power to the grid and other blue economy markets. Specifically, DOE funding will support projects focusing on:

  • Testing WEC Technologies at PacWave (up to $15 million in federal funding): This topic area focuses on testing of WEC system designs intended for remote and microgrid applications, as well as open-source WEC systems that aim to generate publicly available data and knowledge to benefit the entire industry.
  • Advancing WEC Designs for PacWave (up to $5 million): This topic area will support the development of designs of robust WEC systems to generate off-grid or grid-connected power. By the end of the award period, the systems designed would be ready for fabrication, deployment and prototype testing at PacWave South.
  • Open Topic: Wave Energy R&D at PacWave (up to $7 million): This topic area will directly leverage the PacWave test facility to perform impactful wave energy R&D that will advance the marine energy industry as a whole. It will support projects that advance WEC systems, system components, environmental monitoring technologies, instrumentation and prognostic health monitoring systems, wave measurement systems and other supporting technologies.

Click here for full details.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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