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Biden administration funds renewable ocean wave energy

Thomas Catenacci, DCNF

President Joe Biden’s administration announced that it will fund research to turn ocean waves into carbon-free electricity as part of its net-zero emissions plan.

The Department of Energy (DOE) will give $27 million to researchers in Oregon in an effort to make renewable wave energy a commercial viability and support Biden’s pledge for the U.S. to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, according to a DOE announcement Tuesday. The White House has unveiled several clean energy initiatives, which it says will boost the number of “good-paying, middle class” jobs and cut nationwide emissions.

“Oregon is helping lead the nation in our efforts to harness the unlimited energy potential in America’s oceans and lakes,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “With wave energy, we have the opportunity to add more renewable power to the grid and deploy more sustainable energy to hard to reach communities.”

“DOE’s investments in America’s businesses and universities developing these new technologies will propel our clean energy future,” she said.

This form of renewable electricity requires a so-called wave energy converter, which collects wind that blows over the surface of oceans and lakes, according to the DOE. Testing the technology has faced setbacks since it has been hard for researchers to acquire permits to place converters in the open ocean.

The Biden administration will fund projects at PacWave South, an Oregon State University (OSU) facility that DOE funded in 2016, according to the statement. The findings from the funded-projects will be available to all wave energy researchers.

In March, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued OSU a permit to build the facility nearly 10 years after it had requested permission. It will be the first pre-permitted wave energy testing facility in the U.S. and will be operational by 2023.

“The ocean covers more than 70 percent of the surface of our planet, and we can capture the power of its waves, currents, and tides to help power our homes, buildings, and communities,” Democratic Oregon Rep. Suzanne Bonamici said in a statement. “As we transition to a 100 percent clean energy economy, marine energy has tremendous potential as one of the last untapped renewable energy sources.”

Wave energy technology has been developed in Europe by several companies with public funding, CNBC reported. However, the technology hasn’t yet contributed to actual energy production.

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