Many ideas for harnessing the ocean's kinetic energy are floating around. Devices exist that, that , that rest on the surface like snakes, and that cut through the water .
Which apparatuses might emerge as this developing industry's darlings?
Two universities in the Pacific Northwest aim to find out how well at least some of them perform. The Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (Oregon State University (OSU) and the University of Washington) have asked to turn a one-square-mile patch of sea into a testing ground for wave and tidal power projects.
With waves and tides being fairly predictable sources of renewable energy, it's little wonder engineers are trying to improve contraptions for catching the sea's energy and sending power to shore. A couple miles off Newport, Oregon, where waters run between 150 and 180 feet deep, the center will also study how the devices influence marine life and seafloor sediments. There has been no word yet on other OSU research testing Ocean Power Technologies' (OPT) upcoming farm off Reedsport to the south.
To date, OPT's PowerBuoy (right) has gained the most momentum off American coastlines. Just last week, the company awarded a total of $6 million in contracts to Oregon companies. By year's end, they plan to haul out the first of ten 150-kilowatt buoys that will comprise the first commercial wave power station this side of the Atlantic. Last September at the, OPT gave a U.S. grid the first taste of wave power with one of its buoys.
Back at Oregon's proposed testing site, the wave energy prototypes won't connect to the grid. Instead they'll show industry developers whether they sink or swim.
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Images: OPT and OSU
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