LOCE Wind and Wave Energy Weblog

The web's first ocean and offshore wind energy weblog. Continuously renewed, like the ocean itself.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

A Facelift - and More Substance for This Weblog

If you've not visited in a while, you may have noticed that our weblog's had a nice little facelift. But the changes go beyond visuals - we've also added a column at the left with various articles I've written and presentations that I've delivered on offshore renewables. You'll also notice that in the posts themselves, we've linked to, for example, the EPRI wave energy assessement results or the First Circuit's June 28, 2004 decision in the Cape Wind case. Finally, we've enabled our comments so that readers can submit comments - and more importantly, information on other resources on offshore wind and wave that might be available on the web.

So readers, we ask that if there's an article that you come across or a recent study that you know of to please send it on to us at loce@his.com. Thanks - and welcome back to our blog!

Results Begin to Come in on EPRI/E2i Wave Energy Assessment

As mentioned in a couple of posts below, EPRI and E2i have sponsored a wave energy assessment for four different states. A discussion of the reason for the proposed assessment as well as the methodologies used to evaluate the resource can be found here . In the meantime, some of the preliminary results are beginning to return such as the Pre-Release Draft - E21 EPRI Survey and Characterization of Potential offshore wave energy sites in Washington , George Hagerman, (May 2004). Other results can be seen in this
June 2004 presentation by George Hagermant entitled Overview of US Wave Energy Resource.

Some "Light" Offshore Wind Energy Reading

OK, so I lied in the headline. These articles in the Boston College Environmental Affairs Journal, Vol. 31, No. 2 (2004) on issues like the Cape Wind permitting process, regulatory uncertainty and property rights on the Outer Continental Shelf aren't exactly light reading, weighed down as they are with hundreds of footnotes per article. But each piece provides a great overview, replete with statutory and case citations, on offshore wind issues such as uncertainties related to regulatory authority and property rights, where to strike the balance between going forward with permitting and awaiting congressional intervention and ways to manage the permit process and accomodate all stakeholders. Although the pieces are more descriptive than prescriptive in that they tell where we've been and don't necessarily advocate where we ought to go, they're important educational reading for policy makers and others interested in the offshore development debate.

Wave Energy For San Francisco?

Looks like wave power will get some scrutiny in San Francisco in September as reported in this article, Wave Power Plan Gets A Test , SFGate.com (8/4/04). In September, San Francisco is co-hosting a conference on wave energy projects. And as this article, City Turning the Tides describes, a project has been proposed near the Golden Gate Bridge using technology by Hydro-Venturi.

In addition, as the SFGate.com article continues, California will also serve as the site of the Seadog planned for Humboldt, California's "remote and battered" coast:

Mark Thomas, the founder and president of Independent Natural Resources, said the Seadog evolved from a related energy production device that drove a motor by using the compressed air that is routinely fed into pipelines to move natural gas from one location to another.
Bolstered by $270,000 in venture capital, Thomas plans to have a single unit installed off the Humboldt coast by the end of the year to demonstrate the essential feasibility of the technology in the real marine world. The project must be approved by the California Coastal Commission and the State Lands Commission.

Of course, this article is not entirely accurate. As we reported way back in this post , the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asserted licensing jurisdiction over wave energy projects back in February 2003 in the Aqua Energy decision. FERC's licensing authority preempts the states to some extent; for example, a FERC license relieves a developer of the need to obtain a certificate of public necessity and convenience from a state utility commission. And where state proposed measures for protection and enhancement of fishery and wildlife resources conflict with those deemed appropriate by FERC, FERC's provisions will prevail.

FERC has licensing jurisdiction over river based hydro so it may not be the optimal agency to regulate ocean based projects - but as the law currently stands, it nonetheless has that authority. States - and most others in the ocean energy community - have been slow to realize that FERC has interposed itself into the licensing game and may avoid the FERC process to their detriment.

Some Support for Wave Energy from Rhode Island

Here's a nice editorial, Waves of clean energy from the Providence Journal (8/3/2004) which advocates additional federal support for state efforts to make wave energy a reality in the US. Currently, the Department of Energy does not fund any ocean energy programs. Despite lack of federal support, states are moving ahead. A Maine advisory committee recently chose the Scottish Ocean Power Delivery for a pilot demonstration in 2006 along the state's southern coast. And the clean-energy funds of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut intend to provide as much as $1.5 million to Australian Tom Denniss to build a device off Rhode Island's Point Judith.

Wave Energy for Maine?

This article, Maine May Test Hydroelectric Power Project , (Associated Press - 7/27/04) reports that Maine is considering a wave energy project possibly for Old Orchard Beach area. The Electricity Innovation Institute and the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif., recently completed a study that examined coastal communities in Maine, Hawaii, Washington and Oregon to see which towns would be fit best. As the article reports:

The study found that wave-energy devices in Maine could be built in Portland, then installed and connected to the power grid in the waters off Old Orchard Beach. The town was chosen because there is a substation located close to shoreline and a planned upgrade to the power distribution system.

James Atwell, a board member of the Maine Technology Institute, which provided a $60,000 grant for the project, said the choice was based on the results of a "very early stage feasibility study."

"Before any project were constructed, there would be the need for public involvement and some kind of permitting," he said. "You'd need to get the fisheries people involved."

Cape Wind Plows Ahead

Cape Wind, the first major offshore wind farm proposed for the US continues to move forward. As this article, Corps denies Romney's bid to delay release of wind farm impact report, David Kibbe, Cape Cod Online (7/31/04) reports, the Corps will not delay the release of the draft environmental report to allow Massachusetts to clarify the scope of its jurisdcition over the project. A month prior, the First Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in TEN TAXPAYER CITIZENS GROUP; CAPE COD MARINE TRADES ASSOCIATION, INC.; RAOUL D. ROSS; THE MASSACHUSETTS BOATING AND YACHT CLUBS ASSOCIATION, INC., , Docket No. 03-2323 (June 28, 2004) finding that federal law preempts the state of Massachusetts from exercising permitting jurisdiction over outer-continental shelf (OCS) lands in the Nantucket Sound where the project will be sited. OCS lands begin roughly three miles from shore - and according to his July 26 letter to the Corps, Massachusetts Governor Romney described that he was seeking to clarify whether certain rock formations near shore would extend the state's jurisdiction into the footprint of the wind farm.

UK Continues to Fund Wave Energy

According to this article (8/3/04), the UK government has announced funding of ÂŁ50m for wave and tidal stream energy, in the biggest show of support for the emerging renewable technology to date. The move follows recent criticism from various quarters claiming that the UK renewables sector is unfairly balanced in favour of wind energy, a scenario that is stifling the development of other clean power sources.

By comparison, the US currently has $0 devoted to renewable energy development - a situation that will hopefully be alleviated by the pending energy bill. If not, the US will likely continue to lag behind other countries in the ocean energy arena.

Will OTEC Be Back in Hawaii?

This article, New projects generate buzz and profits at Kona's energy lab , Rod Thompson, Star Bulletin (7/12/2004)reports that the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority in Kona has finally become self-sufficient. Among other projects, the Labs will open a Gateway center to educate people on
"distributed" energy -- small, alternative energy projects instead of dependence on large, centralized electric grids. And, the facility is now considering new OTEC proposals that would create up to 10 megawatts of power.

Scotland to Examine Wave Energy in the US

Given that the US has done little to exploit potential wave resources in the United States, businesses abraod may try to capitalize on the resources, as reported in
Scots firm on crest of American wave, Perry Gourley,
Scotsman, 7/11/04. Recently, a US government backed study on wave energy judged Ocean Power Delivery as one of the best wavepower groups, thus paving the way for the company to break into the US market with its Pelamis device. The wave energy assessment was carried out by the Electric Power Research Institute and E2i , a US government and industry agency and examined wave potential in four states.

Oil Companies Interested in Renewables

There's evidence that oil companies, of all entities, are growing increasingly interested in renewables. According to this article,

Renewable energy developments to compete with fossil fuels in Europe
, Oil and Gas Journal (7/27/04):

Instead of viewing renewables as a threat to revenue, oil companies are broadening their energy base to include renewable energy technologies such as solar power, wind, and hydrogen—currently the three main renewable energy sectors in Europe," Shankar Murthy said.
The article makes note of recent ocean energy developments, notably the
TiDel wave energy device developed by Aberdeen based SMD Hydrovision.