From early proof-of-concept testing to ongoing public engagement and education, Oregon Sea Grant is playing a part in efforts to develop renewable energy from the ocean waves and wind - while minimizing the conflicts with other ocean uses.
More than a decade ago, Sea Grant seed money helped fund pioneering scientific and engineering work by OSU researchers Annette Von Jouanne and the late Alan Wallace which determined that the motion of the waves can be harnessed to generate electricity. Within a few years, renewable energy companies from the US and abroad were banging on Oregon's doors, filing multiple permits with the federal Energy Regulatory Commission for commercial-scale projects off the Oregon coast -
Coastal communities, torn between the desire for clean, sustainable energy and a desire to protect their livelihoods and the marine environment, responded by filing their own permit applications in an effort to have some control over where offshore energy facilities might be located.
We support this through conducting research regarding the human dimensions of energy production and cooperatively learning with the public about the complex issues involved. We have:
Sea Grant, under the leadership of Extension Marine Fisheries specialist Kaety Jacobson and Community Outreach specialist Flaxen Conway helped organize stakeholder groups up and down the coast, bringing commercial, charter and sport fishing interests, local governments and others into the siting process. Their reports on the potential environmental and human dimensions of wave energy helped broaden the conversation beyond "will it work" to include "how will it affect marine and human communities?"