WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $25 million in funding to support increased research, development, and demonstration of technologies that harness wave power to create electricity. The funding supports eight projects that will make up the first round of open-water testing at the PacWave South test site off the Oregon coast. These awards will strengthen wave energy technologies to accelerate their commercial viability and deploy them at scale to help decarbonize the grid and reach President Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“Harnessing the unrelenting power of the ocean is a clean, innovative, and sustainable way to curtail carbon pollution — benefitting American businesses and families, especially coastal communities hit hardest by the impacts of climate change,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Diversifying and expanding our clean energy sources will usher in a new era of energy independence that makes the grid more resilient, curbs the climate crisis, and saves Americans money on their energy bills.”
Waves are created when wind blows over the surface of open water in the ocean, and this movement results in a substantial amount of natural energy. Wave energy converters, which capture and convert waves into carbon-free electricity, require testing in realistic conditions to be deployed at scale. Obstacles to testing in the open ocean include permitting challenges and a scarcity of available test sites. In 2016, DOE partnered with Oregon State University to build the PacWave South test facility, which will be the nation’s first accredited, grid-connected, pre-permitted, open-water wave energy test facility.
The selected projects are part of DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) “Advancing Wave Energy Technologies through Open Water Testing at PacWave” funding opportunity to support wave energy technologies through research, development, and eventual deployment.
The eight projects focus on:
- Testing wave energy converter designs for use in geographically remote areas or on small, local energy grids.
- CalWave Power Technologies Inc. (Oakland, CA) (Award amount: $7,500,000)
- Columbia Power Technologies Inc. (Charlottesville, VA) (Award amount: $4,182,275)
- Developing wave energy converter designs that can be either connected to or disconnected from the electricity grid.
- Dehlsen Associates, LLC (Santa Barbara, CA) (Award amount: $1,800,000)
- Oscilla Power Inc. (Seattle, WA) (Award amount: $1,800,000)
- Performing research and development at PacWave related to environmental monitoring technologies, instrumentation systems that operators use to control wave energy converters, and other technologies.
- Integral Consulting (Seattle, WA) (Award amount: $379,329)
- Littoral Power Systems, Inc. (New Bedford, MA) (Award amount: $3,976,401)
- Portland State University (Portland, OR) (Award amount: $4,507,330)
- University of Washington (Seattle, WA) (Award amount: $1,299,689)
“Wave energy is an essential piece of the strategy to combat the climate crisis, and I’m gratified that Oregon State University, Portland State University and our state will play a central role in developing this energy source to its full potential,” said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (OR). “I look forward very much to what the innovative minds at both OSU and PSU as well as elsewhere develop with these projects that put our country on the path to a clean energy future.”
“Thanks to this funding from the Department of Energy, these nine projects will be diving in to advance our clean energy economy,” said U.S. Senator Ed Markey (MA). “These federal grants will provide the necessary investments to responsibly and more efficiently harness power from U.S. waters, extending all the way from New Bedford, Massachusetts to the Pacific Northwest. Let’s ride these waves to our clean energy future.”
“To meet our climate goals, we must support American innovation,” said U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (CA). “This funding for institutions across California to research and advance wave energy technology has the potential to be an important part of our carbon-free future. I am proud to support research that will help pioneer American-made technology, create jobs and deliver clean, affordable energy.”
“PacWave in Oregon is at the forefront of wave energy, thanks in large part to the visionary researchers at Oregon State University. This federal investment of $25 million will allow innovative technologies from across the country, including one from Portland State University, to be tested right here in Oregon, bringing us closer to realizing the potential of this tremendous resource. I’ve long been a champion for wave energy because it can play an important part in our transition to a clean energy economy. The award Secretary Granholm announced today is a milestone in the effort to make wave energy a reality,” said U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01).
“I am happy to see the Department of Energy’s recognition and continued support for the Central Coast’s own Dehlsen Associates for their work to capture wave energy,” said U.S. Representative Salud Carbajal (CA-24). “Wave energy promises to be an important component of our clean energy future and I’m proud to represent businesses like Dehlsen Associates, which has a long history of innovative solutions to the renewable energy challenges we face.”
More information on these projects is available on the WPTO website.