A new study from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) claims that a new form of electricity generation could soon wash ashore
A new study from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) claims that a new form of electricity generation could soon wash ashore. EPRI worked with the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and energy agencies and utilities from six states for a study on the generation of electricity from wave energy. They conducted tests to determine the viability of 300,000MWh plants (nominally 120MW plants operating at 40% capacity factor) in Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, and California. The findings show that based on the output of a 90MW prototype wave energy conversion plant, wave energy will first become commercially competitive with land-based wind technology at a cumulative production volume of 10,000MW or less in Hawaii and North Carolina, about 20,000MW in Oregon, and about 40,000MW in Massachusetts. Maine is the only state in the study whose wave climate may never be able to economically compete with a good wind energy site. EPRI concluded a site off Reedsport, Ore., would be the best location in the United States to develop a wave energy test and demonstration facility due to its combination of good wave action, appropriate undersea terrain, and the presence of existing marine access and terrestrial electric transmission lines that would facilitate the creation of the test center. Anette von Jouanne, an Oregon State University professor of electrical engineering, says the time is right for this type of technology. “The world's oceans are an extremely promising source of clean energy,” von Jouanne says. “The technology is still in experimental stages, but we've made enough progress in the past couple years that it's time to start planning a working research and demonstration facility.” The study determined that wave energy conversion may move forward as soon as investments are made so that wave technology can reach a cumulative production volume of 10,000MW to 20,000MW.