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The US’s first grid-connected wave energy test facility is coming

PacWave is a US Department of Energy-funded, grid-connected, full-scale test facility for wave energy conversion technologies. It’s the first of its kind in the US, and construction is well under way.

PacWave is also a joint venture with the state of Oregon and Oregon State University. It’s being developed off the coast of Newport, Oregon.

Here’s what PacWave is going to look like, and how it’ll work:

Image: Oregon State University

PacWave will be sited in water between 213 to 256 feet (65 to 78 meters) deep. It will be able to accommodate up to 20 wave energy converters – devices that convert wave energy into electricity – in four separate berths at the same time.

Each berth will produce up to 5 megawatts (MW) of energy and will have a dedicated transmission cable – so the test site’s maximum power output from the test site will be 20 MW. Paris-based global cable-making giant Nexans today announced that it’s been selected to provide the four medium voltage AC cables (pictured above) that bring the energy from the berths to shore. The cable lengths are around 20 km (12.4 miles) each.

PacWave is expected to come online by 2024.

It’s still early days for marine renewable energy technologies, but SAE Renewables yesterday announced that its MeyGen tidal stream power project in Scotland, off the coast of Pentland Firth, generated the world’s first 50GWh of electricity from tidal power – a significant milestone for generating electricity from tidal power. The tidal stream array in Scotland is a different setup from PacWave: It’s made up of four 1.5 MW turbines, for a total capacity of 6 MW. Three turbines are currently in operation.

Photo: Nexans

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.