Buoy off Oregon Coast puts wave power to the test

Buoy off Oregon Coast puts wave power to the test

NEWPORT, Ore. - Wave energy experts from Oregon State University took a field trip Thursday to look at a buoy and a boat with no one on board.

Northwest of Newport off the Oregon Coast is an ocean test farm for wave energy to help private firms hook up power-generating buoys for tests.

"They have a sense of what they might do," said Belinda Batten with the OSU Marine Renewable Energy Center, "but until they get out there and you see how much energy they produce for a given wave climate," companies won't know what really works.    

Northwest Energy Innovations of Portland is the first company to give this buoy a test. A long green cord connects the buoy to a $1.5 million ocean sentinel.

The sentinel "is an unmanned vessel," said Sean Moran from the Marine Renewable Energy Center, "and if you're on it and you're that man, you don't want to be that man."

Loaded with gauges and gear, Moran said the sentinel will collect data, track power loads, and monitor if crab pots and grey whales can co-exist with buoys and cables.

"Do they make too much noise, but also do they make enough noise that a whale can hear it from far enough away to avoid it?" said Sarah Henkle from the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center.