The country’s first utility-scale wave power project is moving forward in construction. The 1.5 megawatt wave energy park will generate enough energy to power 375 or more homes. The park will likely be located 2.5 miles off the Oregon coast near Reedsport, and use ten electricity-generating buoys. PB150 PowerBuoys will be used to generate power, and the first one has been constructed at Oregon IronWorks. Oregon’s governor approves of the project, and has said, “The manufacture of the first buoy has already created dozens of green-energy jobs in Oregon and when the 10-buoy wave power project is built, a whole new industry will be created to benefit our coastal communities.”
The PowerBuoy works by moving up and down with wave motion, which causes an internal piston-like structure to drive an electrical generator. Sensors and communication technology allow the buoys to be adjusted to maximize electricity generation in different wave conditions.
The wave park will also include an underwater substation for power collection and an underwater cable to send the power to the Pacific Northwest electric grid. It is estimated the wave park will reduce CO2 emissions by 2,110 tons each year. Wave energy is renewable because once the technology is in place, there is a sufficient wave activity to maintain energy production for years. Potentially, the Reedsport wave park could be expanded to generate up to 50 MW of energy. Ocean Power Technologies is the company responsible for constructing the energy park.
Reedsport has a population of about 4,500, and is near the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.