U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Oregon U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown visited the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory at Oregon State University on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 9, with Granholm touting wave energy as “the elixir that we need” to address climate change by ending the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels.
The visit was organized by OSU and the Pacific Marine Energy Center, a consortium of universities including Oregon State that is focused on advancing marine renewable energy.
“We’ve all been in the ocean,” Granholm told a group of OSU researchers and students after touring the lab’s wave basin and flume. “We’ve all felt the energy it has. That energy can be used to turn on the lights in our homes. Those waves never stop moving.”
During the 80-minute visit to the wave lab, the secretary, senators and governor mingled with graduate students who provided presentations on their research. The leaders also discussed the future of green energy with OSU faculty from the colleges of Engineering and Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.
The state and federal leaders heard presentations on the use of autonomous underwater robots, which are seen as the key to safely inspecting and maintaining undersea generation equipment.
The leaders also heard updates on PacWave, Oregon State’s open-ocean wave energy test facility to be constructed 7 miles off the Oregon Coast south of Newport, and C-Power, an Oregon company that makes marine energy power generation devices.
“As a land grant institution, Oregon State University takes on society’s most pressing issues, like climate change by coming up with clean energy solutions,” OSU Interim President Becky Johnson told the state and federal leaders. “I’m proud of our marine energy research and development initiatives, which are only possible because of the support we receive at the federal and state levels.”
Collaboration, research a priority
Wyden pledged to make collaboration, research and federal investments priorities in advancing wave energy development.
“Every step of the way we’ll bring people together, fishing families and the Tribes,” added Wyden. “We need both funding for the research and for economic activity in the private sector. Sen. Merkley and I are in a position to make sure marine energy gets done right.”
Wind, solar and wave energy show “enormous potential,” said Merkley.
“We have some of the best locations for wave power, and we need facilities like this lab and PacWave to develop the technologies for harvesting it,” he said. “My hope is that 10 years from now wave energy is a real thing.”
Brown described Granholm as a “phenomenal leader working to decarbonize the energy grid.”
“She shares our values, and the No. 1 value is collaboration,” Brown said. “We need everyone, including the federal government and the private sector, to make green energy work. Equity needs to be at the forefront as we work toward a fossil-free energy future because we know that people of color and Indigenous people have been disproportionately impacted by climate change.”