Our company recently completed a wave energy infrastructure assessment for Oregon. In our investigation we spoke with wave energy developers in Scotland, Ireland, England, Norway, Canada and the US states of Oregon and New Jersey. We also met with port authorities and infrastructure providers on the Oregon coast in Coos Bay, Reedsport, Newport, Tillamook, and Portland. As a result of these investigations, we conclude that Oregon has a tremendous infrastructure capability to develop and deploy wave energy technology, not only into Oregon coastal waters, but also throughout the Pacific Northwest. Furthermore, there is more Oregon can do to prepare itself for this emerging industry. Specifically:Oregon

  • Oregon has the manufacturing muscle, the transportation infrastructure, and a capable workforce.
  • Gaps exist in infrastructure capability, notably the availability of deployment vessels and skilled workforce, which can be closed through strategic planning and assertive action both by regional coalitions and at the statewide level.
  • Oregon is uniquely suited to support early test and demonstration activities, the state being the home to the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center and the Hatfield Marine Science Center. Oregon also benefits from the forward-looking and practical initiatives fostered by OWET in investigating environmental, societal, economic, and cumulative effects resulting from wave energy development.
  • In the next 10 years, the biggest demand on Oregon will be for test and demonstration of new technology off of the Oregon coast. After 10 years, full deployment of commercial wave energy systems is expected to be viable. Oregon’s opportunity goes beyond developing and selling wave energy within Oregon. It includes the manufacturing and deployment of wave energy devices to other regions along the Pacific Rim, including California, Washington, Alaska, and Canada.
  • Infrastructure jobs will result from the development of wave energy in Oregon, but in the early stages many of those jobs will be sporadic. It may take years for a steady stream of workforce activities to develop as the industry transitions from the test and demonstration phase to full commercial deployment. This report identifies a set of prioritized, recommended actions to resolve infrastructure gaps, thereby supporting the development of wave energy products and services in Oregon.

At the Ocean Renewable Energy Conference IV in Seaside, Oregon September 15 and 16, 2009, we reported (Seaside Panel ARC) on the economic potential for Oregon in wave energy development.

Recommendations for Immediate Implementation

In order to begin the process for the development of wave energy capabilities in Oregon, there are a number of steps various groups can and should take. In the short term:

  • Local regions in Oregon should form regional coalitions to consider and implement steps to prepare for wave energy.
  • Community colleges on the Oregon Coast should incorporate courses and programs into their strategic plans that will provide workforce training to develop the various skill-sets needed for wave energy test, demonstration, and deployment.
  • Area businesses that are expecting to play in the wave energy arena should become familiar with the technology, the processes, and the issues associated with their trades to close the gap in providing the needs of wave energy developers.
  • Barge, tug, and vessel operators should become familiar with the processes and issues associated with deploying and recovering wave energy devices at sea.
  • Ports should become familiar with the processes, needs, and issues of deploying, operating, and maintaining wave energy devices.
  • Workforce organizations should become familiar with the processes and issues associated with the transport and offloading of wave energy components and the deployment and recovery of wave energy devices.
  • The Oregon Department of Transportation, together with Business Oregon, should look at the transportation needs of wave energy developers and incorporate into their strategic plans actions to prepare roadways and railways for transporting wave energy components from manufacturing areas to the coast.
  • Wave energy developers coming to Oregon need to understand the “Oregon Way” of doing business, namely, collaborating with local stakeholders prior to implementing new capability so as to harmonize the implementation into existing environmental, economic, and social infrastructure.
  • Wave energy developers should prepare transportation, operations and maintenance, recovery, and emergency plans to facilitate access to key Oregon infrastructure sectors.

Recommendations for Later Implementation

In addition to the steps taken in the short term, there are some longer term efforts that should be undertaken. These include the following:

  • Ports and regions should develop the infrastructure for deployment of wave energy equipment and services.
  • Community colleges on the Oregon Coast should begin to implement workforce-training programs to provide the various skill-sets needed for wave energy test, demonstration, and deployment.
  • The State of Oregon should work with coastal authorities to develop guidelines and plans for the deployment and recovery of wave energy devices in Oregon waters.
  • The State of Oregon, in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard and port authorities, should develop and implement standardized emergency service procedures for operation within Oregon coastal waters.
  • The State of Oregon should explore an investment in the test facility provided by NNMREC to incorporate a business component that follows the model of the European Marine Energy Centre in Scotland.
  • The State of Oregon should work with federal and local agencies to coordinate and simplify the regulatory application and approval process with the intent to minimize the level of effort by applicants bringing marine renewable energy to Oregon.
  • Wave energy developers should be open with relevant information about their devices and technology so governments, regions, and local businesses can prepare the framework and infrastructure needed to support the development and operation of the devices.

A copy of the full report is expected to be released sometime in January. Stay tuned…

One Response to “Wave energy development and the Oregon infrastructure”

  1. on 08 Jan 2010 at 6:44 pmRichard Bray

    How very interesting this is John. I hope you dont mind me commenting. I have often wondered why it has taken so long to use the waves energy for this purpose, and its very exciting to be reading your articles posted here. Thanks. Richard Bray

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