If you've enjoyed an ocean fishing trip or whale watching tour off the Oregon coast, you know that the wave action is relentless. It makes some people turn green just thinking about that bouncy feeling. Well, those constantly rocking waves may yield another type of green – green energy that is not intermittent. The sun will set and the winds often subside, but the wave action off the Oregon coast never stops.
Apparently, Oregon's waves are considered ideal for a constant slow and steady energy source; better than Washington, better than California. On March 1, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted Oregon State University the first license in the country for a wave energy testing facility, near Newport. Soon, a cable will be buried between the offshore location and the shore, connecting the testing facility to the local power grid. Then, up to 20 devices can be installed within the test area to determine their energy production capability, reliability, and scalability, and to monitor any impacts on aquatic life.
The project has been in the planning stage for years, as OSU and proponents worked with fishermen and environmental groups to find a location that would have low impact on fisheries, fish, reefs, kelp, and other aquatic life and resources. Now, with the granting of the permit, there is some optimism that electricity could be flowing from the waves to the power grid by 2023. Some predict that wave energy might someday supply up to 10 percent of the nation's power needs. Rock and roll!