This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
Wave Energy Demonstrations Planned for North America
British Columbia may also be the site of the first wave power facility in North America. BC Hydro, the province's electric utility, announced last week that it will help develop a 3 to 4 megawatt ocean wave energy demonstration project on Vancouver Island. BC Hydro signed a memorandum of understanding with Energetech Australia Pty Ltd. for the project. The Energetech system uses an oscillating water column (OWC) system to produce electricity. OWC systems consist of a large fixed tube that is open to the ocean at the bottom and projects above the ocean surface. Waves cause the water level in the tube, or column, to move up and down. These oscillations push air in and out of the top of the column, past an air-driven turbine that generates electricity.
BC Hydro is currently verifying the wave energy resource at a site near Amphitrite Point off Ucluelet. The project is part of a 20-megawatt Vancouver Island Green Energy Demonstration project, which will include 10 megawatts of wind power and 6 to 8 megawatts of micro-hydroelectric power by 2004. See the BC Hydro press release.
To help develop such projects in North and South America, Energetech has established a U.S. subsidiary, Energetech America, which it says will be based in Connecticut. See the Energetech Web site (particularly the "What's New" section).
BC Hydro may have some competition from down south: a wave energy project is also being planned for the northwest coast of Washington State. AquaEnergy Group Ltd. is proposing to build a $2.5 million demonstration plant off Wa'atch Point in Neah Bay. The local utility, Public Utility District (PUD) No. 1 of Clallam County, has agreed to buy 1 megawatt of power from the project. Although the published information on the project is limited, it was discussed in the January 28th meeting of the PUD's Board of Commissioners.
AquaEnergy's system uses a moored buoy that captures the kinetic energy of the waves. See the AquaEnergy Web site.
California is also getting into the act: Scientists at San Diego State University are planning to determine just how much electricity could be produced along the state's 1,100-mile coastline, the likely costs of generating electricity from waves, and environmental issues that may be tied to developing ocean wave energy systems. Their goal is to determine the best places to deploy ocean wave energy systems off the California coast. The California Energy Commission (CEC) recently awarded $120,000 to the university for these studies. See the CEC press release.
To learn more about ocean wave energy, see the Wave Energy page on EREN.