Oregon funds wave energy group

As the state’s newly established wave energy association, this group of industry, academic and state agency representatives just received $1 million from the Oregon Innovation Council. Officials believe that Oregon has the potential to create high-paying jobs and economic opportunity in Oregon, attract new investment and talent, and provide reliable, low-cost, clean, and renewable power. OWET was formed last year to build and share the expertise needed to support responsible development of this industry. “With great opportunity comes great challenges, and Oregon needs a central entity for all wave energy-related activities to support responsible industry development,” said Chandra Brown of Oregon Iron Works, one of the OWET partners.  Researchers say that the ocean is the largest, most concentrated source of renewable energy on Earth, and the potential for wave energy in Oregon is enormous – it could provide 10 percent of the state’s electricity needs by 2025.  “The state’s investment is aimed at addressing the challenges facing the industry, which include education and outreach, understanding potential environmental effects, responding to existing use conflicts, research and development, and state-wide planning,” said OWET’s acting Director Justin Klure. “The top priorities are determining potential ecological effects and working with existing ocean users to develop a plan to share the use of the ocean.”  Among recent and planned activities:

  •  OWET will allot $50,000 of its initial funds to support education and coastal community outreach, in programs designed by Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association.
  •  Last October, OWET provided matching funds to sponsor an Ecological Effects Workshop at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, and key findings from this workshop will be used to direct environmental effects analysis and monitoring studies.
  • About $225,000 will be used to conduct a whale migration study through Oregon State University’s Marine Mammals Institute, to establish baseline data on marine mammal migration patterns off the coast of Oregon.
  • New wave energy technologies and applied research activities will also be supported at OSU, as they seek to develop a National Wave Energy Center and test new wave energy devices.  

OWET represents a diverse group of stakeholders from both public and private sectors, and is using a collaborative approach to address concerns. “We recognize there are a variety of stakeholders in Oregon, including important sectors like commercial crabbing and fishing, recreation, manufacturing, conservation, and others,” said Kevin Banister, president of the association. “OWET is committed to working with stakeholders to balance the benefits of renewable energy development with other historic uses.”

OWET will direct environmental, economic, and social studies to support and improve regulatory coordination under federal and state law. According to Robin Hartmann, ocean program director for Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition and OWET board member, the funding will help assure that Oregon becomes a leader in both the technological and ecological implications of wave energy development.

For more information, contact Justin Klure, info@oregonwave.org

Oregon Wave Energy TrustThe mission of the Oregon Wave Energy Trust (OWET) is to become a central entity for wave energy-related development in Oregon.  Guided by its stakeholders, OWET will build and share expertise needed to support  the responsible development of the state’s emerging wave industry (www.oregonwave.org).

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