Rolling ocean waves could soon provide electricity for the local grid in one coastal Oregon town.
Newport, Ore., was chosen to be the host community for the future Pacific Marine Energy Center, officials announced last week. About 5 miles (8 kilometers) offshore, the center will test out an array of wave energy devices for their generation potential and their environmental impacts, according to a statement from Oregon State University.
The devices will be contained in four "test berths" and will be connected to the community's electrical grid by underwater cables, OSU officials said. The devices also will collect data to be analyzed by scientists and engineers at on-shore facilities.
Wave energy structures convert the mechanical power of waves into electricity — all without burning fossil fuels. Advocates emphasize that waves, which are constantly in motion, can generate power 24 hours a day, unlike other renewable energy sources such as the sun and wind. But the technology to harness wave energy is still in its earliest stages and thus, expensive.
The Pacific Marine Energy Center, which will take years to complete, got its first installment of funding a few months ago — $4 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, plus a non-federal match, according to OSU.