‘Landmark’ License Issued for Wave-Energy Project


“This action is a landmark,” said FERC Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher in a statement. “It represents the issuance of the first hydrokinetic license, and a major step by the Commission in promoting development of [ocean-energy projects].”

Finavera Renewables Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia, received the license for the Makah Bay Offshore Wave Energy Project. Construction can begin only after receipt of all other state and federal authorizations required under federal law.

“I think FERC has really jumped on the bandwagon,” says Roger Bedard, ocean-energy leader for the Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, Calif. FERC has struggled with licensing of ocean-energy projects because their requirements greatly differ from those of conventional hydropower.

The Makah Bay license “really shows FERC is wanting to get it right,” agrees Trey Taylor, president of Verdant Power Inc., Arlington, Va. Verdant is developing a tidal in-stream energy project in New York City’s East River (ENR 5/14/07 p. 26). “This is all good for the industry.”

The Makah Bay project will consist of four 250-kW patented steel wave-energy-conversion “AquaBuOYs” three miles offshore, a direct-current underwater transmission cable to the shore station and a short, 12-kV transmission cable iconnecting with the grid. Finavera’s goal is to have it operating about 2010 or 2011, says a spokesman.

ith the issuance of the first federal license for a project to make electricity from the ocean’s energy, a technology whose promise has outshone its results is poised to join the growing ranks of renewable-energy options. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last month issued a conditioned license for a 1-MW wave-energy pilot project off the Washington state coast. Finavera and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. last month also broke new ground with a power-purchase agreement for 2 MW of wave-energy conversion power at a site not yet specified off Eureka, Calif., beginning in 2012. The agreement is the first PPA with a public utility for ocean-energy power.