Offshore wind got the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) assessment treatment 15 months ago, with a big fat report that made the case for robust power development on the seas. We’re still waiting for the first watt of offshore wind power to waltz ashore, but the Obama administration did at least follow up on the report by unveiling a process that has seemingly real development efforts unfolding up and down the East Coast.
Now we’ll find out what happens with wave and tidal energy. DOE just released assessments of U.S. wave and tidal resources and declared they “could contribute significantly to the United States’ total annual electricity production, further diversify the nation’s energy portfolio, and provide clean, renewable energy to coastal cities and communities.” How much is “significantly”? Possibly as much as 15 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030, DOE said, if you include conventional hydropower and other water power resources.
While offshore wind power development is focusing generally on the East Coast, DOE said that with wave power, the best action could be in the Pacific. “The West Coast, including Alaska and Hawaii, has especially high potential for wave energy development, while significant opportunities for wave energy also exist along the East Coast,” DOE said. “Additionally, parts of both the West and East Coasts have strong tides that could be tapped to produce energy.”
Wave power is already trying to get going on the West Coast. Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) has been inching along with its planned deployment off Reedsport, Ore. Reports emerged in early 2010 suggesting that a buoy would be deployed imminently, with the promise of nine more to go in by the end of 2012.