Updates from Frank Hartzell’s article announcing FERC’s granting of GreenWave’s application:
On December 9, 2008 “the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted a Southern California development company exclusive rights to 17 square miles off the town of Mendocino for a wave energy study.
GreenWave LLC’s intent is to eventually produce a 100 megawatt wave energy power plant, more than twice as big as the 40 megawatt project Pacific Gas & Electric plans off Fort Bragg.
Due to redefining of the preliminary permit process by FERC, the new preliminary permit does not encourage in-water testing. It does give sole claim and study rights to GreenWave, blocking any local study of the same area.
More valuable, the preliminary permit gives GreenWave exclusive first rights to a license to build a wave energy farm, upon completion of the three-year study.
The preliminary permit came more than a year after GreenWave, of Thousand Oaks, filed for two preliminary permits. FERC had initially rejected the GreenWave application as too sketchy.
GreenWave also was granted a preliminary permit on Tuesday for a nearly identical proposal off San Luis Obispo.
DAVID SNEED, The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, April 2008
A Southern California company is eyeing the coastline off Montaña de Oro State Park to study the feasibility of an emerging renewable energy technology—converting wave action to electricity.
Green Wave Energy Solutions LLC has laid claim to a three-mile-wide swath of ocean a mile off the tip of the Morro Bay sand spit to Point Buchon —17 square miles in all — in which it hopes to eventually test the feasibility of wave power.
The Thousand Oaks company has applied to federal energy officials for permission to do the study.
“We’re still early on in development, but we feel there is a tremendous window of opportunity to do this,” said Wayne Burkamp, a San Francisco attorney who is GreenWave’s president.
The application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a preliminary permit would not give the company permission to put wave energy devices in the water. Rather, it would give the company three years to study the feasibility of wave energy.
“It’s like a mining claim,” said Allison Detmer, director of the state Coastal Commission’s energy program.
The application is one of several before FERC laying claim to coastal waters of California for possible development of wave energy.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) recently received a preliminary permit to study the feasibility of wave energy off the coast of Mendocino and Humboldt counties.
Green Wave also has an application for the Mendocino coast. Wave energy projects are also in the works in Oregon and Washington.
The San Luis Obispo County project is the southernmost.
Neither the PG&E nor GreenWave applications state what type of wave energy devices would be used.
Two types are under development, Burkamp said. Both use the up-and-down motion of waves to generate electricity. One consists of a snake-like line of tubes floating on the surface of the ocean that undulates as waves pass by. The other employees a buoy that uses the pitching and heaving motions caused by waves to generate power.
Green Wave officials aren’t providing additional details on what technology they might use.
“Given the time horizon for getting through the permitting process (which could be years) and the uncertainties of what the technologies will actually look like, GreenWave believes it would be misleading to provide detailed specifications of a technology at this stage,” Burkamp wrote in the application to FERC.
A wave power facility off San Luis Obispo County could generate as much as 100 megawatts of power, the application states. That’s enough power for about 90,000 homes.
By contrast, Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant generates 2,200 megawatts.
The company anticipates spending as much as $2 million during the initial feasibility phase, while actual installation of a wave-power facility would cost as much as $40 million.
According to the application, Green Wave’s study area is one to three and a half miles offshore and seven miles long. Wave energy components would not be visible from shore, Burkamp said.
“A project area of this size is required to allow flexibility for performing the necessary assessments and properly siting the project components,” the application reads.
This area was chosen because of its abundant wave action and its proximity to Morro Bay. The city has a port and power plant, where electricity generated by a wave power plant could land and hook into the power grid, Burkamp said.
He said a test project could be in the water within a year to a year and a half. However, Coastal Commission officials say the establishment of a wave power facility anywhere in California is years away.
“This industry is very young, and they need to do a lot of testing first,” Detmer said.
Wave power facilities would also face many regulatory hurdles. Burkamp estimates that a facility would require 26 federal, state and local permits.
Placing wave energy devices in the water and laying transmission lines on the ocean floor would both require coastal development permits, Detmer said. Projects located farther off shore than three miles would be under the jurisdiction of the federal Minerals Management Service.
Environmental groups are reacting with caution to the recent interest in wave power. They support the idea of renewable energy sources such as wave power, but are waiting for details about specific projects.
“We think it’s important that all of these projects proceed with caution,” said Rick Wilson, coastal management director with the Surfrider Foundation. “Even though this is clean, green technology, there can be potential impacts to fishing and environmental impacts.”
Possible environmental impacts include noise, increased vessel traffic and blockage of whale migration routes.