PacWave South project receives first U.S. marine renewable energy research lease

PacWave South site

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has offered the first marine renewable energy research lease in federal waters off the U.S. West Coast to Oregon State University (OSU) for the PacWave South project.

PacWave South is a proposed open ocean wave energy test center, to be located about 6 nautical miles off Newport, Ore. The research lease area is about 4,270 acres or 2.65 square miles.

Marine hydrokinetic (MHK) technology harnesses energy from ocean waves, tides and currents and converts it into electricity. Wave energy converters (WEC) that will be tested at PacWave South are floating or underwater devices that are moored to the seafloor.

Issuance of the federal marine hydrokinetic energy research lease by BOEM is a prerequisite for a license from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). OSU filed the PacWave South final license application with FERC on May 30, 2019. The PacWave research lease is the first lease to be issued off the West Coast under the joint BOEM-FERC authority over MHK projects on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

In October 2013, OSU submitted an unsolicited request for a research lease for a grid-connected wave energy test site to be located offshore Newport. The project will consist of four test berths to support the testing of up to 20 WEC devices, with an installed capacity not to exceed 20 MW.

In June 2014, BOEM determined there was no competitive interest in the area requested by OSU and proceeded with the leasing process on a non-competitive basis. BOEM participated as a cooperating agency with FERC’s environmental review of the project, including in the preparation of the environmental assessment.

On April 23, 2020, FERC issued an environmental assessment for PacWave South, which includes BOEM’s environmental analysis associated with lease issuance.

FERC and BOEM share jurisdiction for grid-connected MHK projects on the OCS. BOEM has authority to issue leases, easements and rights-of way, and FERC has authority to issue licenses for the construction and operation of MHK projects.

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