Oregon got a big chunk of the money it needs to retain its leadership position in wave energy development in the United States yesterday when the U.S. Department of Energy confirmed a $4 million grant to help build the Pacific Marine Energy Center, a grid-connected device test site.
The need for a test site was highlighted by the disparate concepts under discussion at the conference. This isn’t the wind industry before its big boom a decade ago, when there was no question about what technology would be employed as more wind farms popped up; with wave, there are an endless number of schemes at varying stages of development. Who knows what will work in the long run?
The WET-NZ has been undergoing testing in the waters off the coast at Newport, Ore., connected to a mobile test pod run by the Northwest National Renewable Marine Energy Center out of Oregon State University, while the PowerBuoy is being readied for deployment off Reedsport, Ore., in what is licensed to eventually become the first grid-connected wave array in the country.
These devices share similarities, and yet they’re also very different. Both are what are known as point-absorbers, moored, floating structures that mostly are underwater put pop above the surface. They take advantage of components that, driven by the waves, move relative to each other. But the PowerBuoy moves up and down somewhat like a giant piston, and uses direct-drive mechanics to generate power. WET-NZ’s float rotates 360 degrees, and the device uses hydraulics to convert the rotation to electricity.
As different as those two devices are from each other, others devices intended to one day send power onto electrical grids hardly resemble either one.
Read on for a look at four wave energy devices that were discussed yesterday at the Ocean Renewable Energy Conference.