Wave-energy project halted

WASHINGTON STATE - A small wave-energy project off Washington's northwest coast won't be built after its British Columbia-based developer decided to halt all wave-energy projects and focus instead on wind power.

The one-megawatt project planned for Makah Bay in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary was the country's first wave-energy project to receive an operating license. Its developer, Finavera Renewables, also pulled permits for a larger project it had planned off the Northern California coast.

Such projects use buoys equipped with turbines that harness the power of the rolling waves to generate electricity.

Finavera declined to comment about why it decided to give up its wave-energy projects, but officials said its most pressing concern is finishing a handful of wind projects in Canada and Ireland.

The company's wave-power buoy sank unexpectedly during a test run more than a year ago off the Oregon coast, and the plans to place four buoys in Makah Bay have lagged because of state and federal permitting.

Finavera's decision isn't surprising given the wave-energy industry's infancy compared with wind, which now has honed its turbine technology and lowered power costs, said Roger Bedard, ocean-energy leader with the nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute.

Bedard said he was optimistic that wave-device testing and planned commercial projects by different companies and Oregon State University off the Oregon coast will propel the young field forward.


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