Hydro Review

Marine Hydrokinetics

Oregon wave testing center files FERC license notice

Oregon State University's Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center has filed a notice of intent to license and environmental scoping documents for the nation's first utility scale, grid-connected wave energy test site.

NNMREC filed April 15 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a notice of intent to file a hydro project license application for the maximum 20-MW Pacific Marine Energy Center South Energy Test Site (No. 14616), six nautical miles off the coast of Newport, Ore., on the Outer Continental Shelf. In environmental scoping documents filed June 5, NNMREC scheduled scoping meetings July 9 and a site visit July 10.

The Pacific Marine Energy Center is to test energy generation potential and the environmental impacts of wave energy devices. Subsea cables are to transmit energy from a maximum of 20 wave energy conversion devices to the local power grid, and data to scientists and engineers at onshore facilities.

The Oregon Wave Energy Trust has supported PMEC and helped create a wave energy development regulatory process that meshes the needs of ocean stakeholders and the state of Oregon. Citing financial and regualtory challenges, Ocean Power Technologies Inc. applied May 30 to surrender the license for its 1.5-MW Reedsport OPT Wave Park (No. 12713) off the coast of Douglas County, Ore., the first commercial-scale wave project to be licensed by FERC.

The Pacific Marine Energy Center will have four "test berths," open spaces of water dedicated to testing indvidual devices or small arrays of devices, each of which will be connected to the community's electrical grid. It will also collect data associated with environmental and human impacts.

Under the National Environmental Policy Act, FERC is to evaluate environmental effects of the project and consider reasonable alternatives. NNMREC has received permission to use FERC's alternative licensing process that calls for an applicant-prepared environmental assessment and applicant scoping for the environmental review. The project's environmental scoping document may be ontained from FERC's website at http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/common/opennat.asp?fileID=13565323.

Scoping meetings were held in early July at Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, and a site visit was held in the same month at Ona Beach State Park at Waldport, Ore.

For more information about the project, visit www.pmec.us.

BOEM grants lease for Gulf Stream tidal turbine tests

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University have signed a five-year lease agreement with the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), allowing FAU to test small-scale tidal turbines near Fort Lauderdale.

The agreement, signed by FAU's Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC), allows researchers to install multiple floating test berths on the U.S. outer continental shelf 13 miles offshore from Broward County.

The university said each of the berths will include a buoy anchored to the sea floor, which will allow turbine prototypes up to 100 kW in capacity to be deployed from vessels moored in the Gulf Stream.

"This project is a potentially paradigm-shifting development in the global quest for clean energy sources and puts South Florida at the forefront of research in this critical effort," FAU President John Kelly said. "It also demonstrates the multidisciplinary nature of marine renewables research, a successful public-private partnership, and FAU's international leadership in the field."

SNMREC has been working since 2007 to establish the turbine test site, FAU said, with the need for such a site further emphasized after the university successfully tested a small-scale research turbine in tow tests late this past year.

"This is the first time a lease has been issued to test ocean current energy equipment in federal waters," BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank said. "The Gulf Stream contains a tremendous amount of energy, and this technology offers exciting potential to expand the nation's renewable energy portfolio."

Before the lease offer from BOEM was received, an environmental assessment concluding that the project would have "no significant impact" was prepared. Work on the environmental review began in May 2011. The agency will review a project plan before the first test berth is installed later this year, however.

"Our team's hard work and dedication to our vision is symbolized by the signed lease," said Susan Skemp, director of SNMREC in FAU's College of Engineering and Computer Science.

"We are now looking forward to working closely with our industry partners as we begin to collectively evaluate equipment to generate power from ocean currents and continue to inform future regulatory processes."

The project is being financed with nearly US$20 million in funding from DOE, the state of Florida and private companies.

FERC license surrendered for first U.S. wave project

Citing financial and regulatory challenges, Ocean Power Technologies Inc. has applied to surrender the license for its 1.5-MW Reedsport OPT Wave Park, the first commercial-scale wave power project to be licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

FERC issued a 35-year license for the Reedsport project in 2012 to a unit of OPT. The project was to consist of 10 PowerBuoy wave energy converters to be installed in a 35-acre area of the Pacific Ocean 2.5 miles off the coast of Douglas County, Ore.

Under terms of the license, licensee Reedsport OPT Wave Park LLC was to install, in Phase I, a 150-kW PowerBuoy unit to test the mooring system and unit operation and to collect measurements of electromagnetic fields and acoustic emissions. In October 2012, it announced it would delay installing the first unit until spring 2013 due to the early onset of unfavorable weather in the Pacific Northwest. At that time, OPT said it was able to install one of the three needed anchors before efforts were halted.

In a surrender application filed May 30, OPT told FERC it experienced complications with installation of the first floating gravity-based anchor and auxiliary subsurface buoy in September 2012. In November 2012, it found the auxiliary subsurface buoy had settled on the sea floor.

The buoy and associated tendon and outer mooring lines were recovered from the project area in October 2013, OPT said, adding it plans to remove the floating gravity-based anchor from the sea floor by October 2014.

"The primary challenge has been raising additional project-specific financing for Phase I," the surrender application said. "These challenges, together with project-timing issues that arose with the application of various license requirements to both the non-grid-connected buoy in Phase I and the ten-buoy array in Phase II, initially led Reedsport to conclude that it might not install all of the project components for several years."

Under terms of its FERC license, OPT said it would circulate a draft of its proposed decommissioning plan to state and federal resource agencies, with submission of a final plan to FERC within 60 days.

"Despite continued efforts to overcome these challenges, Reedsport has found them to be insurmountable within the timeframes for construction and operation set forth in the license and is hereby proposing to decommission the Reedsport project by removing the installed FGBA and surrender the license," the licensee said.

On OPT's Internet site, the developer said the project has been discontinued by mutual agreement of OPT and the U.S. Department of Energy. OPT had received grants totaling $3.5 million from DOE.

"The Reedsport project encountered a considerable increase in costs related to the project and the company was unable to obtain the required financing directly related to the completion of the project," the website said.

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