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Renewable energy | Pacific Ocean | Energy | Water | Ecotrope

Wave energy: First a license, then ... the world

Ocean Power Technologies Inc. just got an early thumbs-up from government regulators, conservation and fishing groups after three years of discussion on how best to site a wave energy park off the coast of Reedsport.

The company has signed a settlement agreement with 14 stakeholders – a solid step toward licensing the first commercial wave park in the U.S. The group, which includes 11 state and federal agencies, managed to find consensus on how to manage and mitigate the environmental, recreational and commercial crabbing impacts of wave buoys in the Pacific.

The 10-buoy, 1.5-megawatt Ocean Power project isn’t just a possible source of renewable energy for Oregon; it’s also supporting manufacturing jobs at Clackamas-based Oregon Iron Works, which is building the first of a new generation of power buoys for Ocean Power.

The initial two phases of the project call for 10 buoys, but the third phase aims for 100 – a plan commercial crabbers say they won’t support.

But, on a larger scale, Ocean Power Technologies Executive Chairman George W. Taylor said he thinks his company’s wave buoys could put the U.S. on the global map for renewable energy:

“This development will help pave the way for the United States to retain a technological advantage in wave power, an advantage that has been ceded to other countries that produce solar panels and wind turbines,” he said. “Wave energy has the potential to create manufacturing jobs in America, while providing low-cost clean, environmentally benign electricity to help replace the use of fossil fuels.”

The U.S. Department of Energy has granted $3.5 million to New Jersey-based Ocean Power to develop the buoy technology and help realize that potential.

But first, on to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which still needs to license the project before it can plug into the grid.

And then…the world.

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