Cal Poly bags $1.5M grant for wave energy test center

Illustration/Protean WEC (Photo: Protean Wave Energy)
Illustration/Protean WEC (Photo: Protean Wave Energy)

Cal Poly’s Institute for Advanced Technology & Public Policy has received a one-year $1.5 million grant from the US Department of Energy for the second phase of assessing the feasibility of establishing a national wave energy test center off California.

The California Wave Energy Test Center (CalWave) is envisioned as a utility grid-connected site that could provide berths for multiple wave energy conversion devices located five miles offshore in federal waters.

The prior Cal Poly study concluded that the best California site would be offshore from Vandenberg Air Force Base, which intends to purchase and use the renewable power generated by the test center.

The next round of studies are meant to inform the US Department of Energy about the costs, duration, and possible environmental permitting and stakeholder issues for building and operating a wave energy test center.

The California Natural Resources Agency is partnering with Cal Poly to assist in determining how to best coordinate the roles of various permitting authorities and to ensure that fragile marine life issues are properly addressed during the permitting process.

Bill Toman, CalWave Project Manager, said: “Wave technology is still in its infancy, much like where solar and wind energy were a generation ago. There are scores of different ideas about how to best harness this energy but they are difficult to test under realistic conditions, especially at sea. Once a national test facility is available we expect to see rapid advances in the commercialization of wave energy technologies.”

In addition, the Institute for Advanced Technology & Public Policy has added new partners to the project who will provide $375,000 of matching funds as part of the second grant.

This support includes $200,000 from PG&E, $125,000 from the California Natural Resources Agency, and $50,000 from Australia-based Protean Wave Energy.

This is the second US Department of Energy grant awarded to the Institute for this purpose, totaling $2.25 million.

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