FERC issued a license to Oregon State University on March 4 to build and operate a 20 MW offshore, wave-energy testing facility, capping a regulatory effort dating back to 2012.
PacWave South will be sited 7 miles southwest of Newport, Ore., on 7 square kilometers of the outer continental shelf in water between 65 and 80 meters deep.
The $80 million project—the first such facility in the nation—is expected to go live by 2023. Once built, it will provide a facility for developers to test their wave energy technologies in a realistic environment and transmit any generated electricity to an onshore electrical grid.
Project Manager Justin Klure told Water Power West that OSU has been in contact on a regular basis with potential clients for the site from both national and international companies.
"As the facility is still in its construction phase, OSU has not executed any contracts at this time, but anticipates formalizing agreements in 2022," Klure added.
Funding for PacWave South includes a $35 million U.S. Department of Energy grant and $3.8 million from Oregon.
The Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management—which has regulatory authority over the use of offshore federal waters and lands—approved a research lease on Jan. 19, which was issued Feb. 16 and became effective on March 1.
Power and data cables buried below the seafloor will connect the ocean test site to a shore-based facility. Project construction is slated to start in summer with installation of the power cable conduits using horizontal directional drilling. Cable installation in the conduits is expected in late 2022 or early 2023, OSU said in a release.
Construction of the shore-based utility connection and monitoring facility is also expected to begin later this year, and will condition the wave-generated electricity prior to sending it on the local power grid, operated by Central Lincoln PUD.
PacWave includes an established north facility about 15 km north-northwest of the south site where small-scale, prototype, and maritime market technologies can be tested. Located in state waters, it provides streamlined permitting, OSU says, and is in shallower water than PacWave South and closer to port.