California’s Senate approves wave and tidal renewable energy bill

The California State Senate has unanimously approved a bill that aims to put the state on the path to developing wave and tidal energy as a new source of renewable energy that will help meet its carbon-free targets while bolstering the power grid.

Illustration/The submerged CalWave’s x1 wave energy device (Courtesy of CalWave Power Technologies)

The measure, SB 605 by Senator Steve Padilla (D-Chula Vista), directs the California Energy Commission to work with relevant state agencies to study the feasibility and potential for wave and tidal energy development in California, and sets deadlines to report its findings to the Legislature and Governor.

The SB 605 states that if developed and deployed at scale, offshore wave and tidal energy have the potential to provide economic and environmental benefits to the state and the nation.

Still, the measure recognizes the potential impacts of wave and tidal energy development to the ocean species and habitat.

“Onshore and offshore wave and tidal energy should be developed in a manner that protects coastal and marine ecosystems. The state should use its authority under state programs and policies to ensure avoidance, minimization, and mitigation of significant adverse impacts and monitoring and adaptive management for offshore wave and tidal energy projects and their associated infrastructure,” the bill reads.

The Senate passed SB 605 on consent, meaning it had unanimous, bi-partisan support. The bill now moves to the Assembly for consideration.

Wave and tidal industry applauds California’s ‘swift action’

Terry Tamminen, President and CEO of AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles, in prior testimony before Senate policy committees, said: “We need to continue to innovate the policies, technologies, and financing of new clean, renewable energy sources for our state if we hope to achieve our ambitious goals for clean air and a climate-resilient economy.

“This important measure would set California on the path towards becoming a global leader in ocean energy and developing this untapped source of clean, resilient, abundant, and renewable energy.”

Tamminen is the former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and the chief environmental policy advisor to then California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

AltaSea, a non-profit located on a 35-acre campus at the Port of Los Angeles, is dedicated to scientific and educational collaboration to advance California’s burgeoning sustainable blue economy through innovative technologies, business, and workforce development initiatives, is the sponsor of SB 605.

Marcus Lehmann, CEO and co-founder of Oakland-based wave energy company CalWave Power Technologies, sad: “The Senate’s passage of SB 605 is an important step in the development of an energy resource that has vast potential.

“CalWave has successfully completed a 10-month wave energy pilot project offshore California, demonstrating the technology’s performance, reliability and environmental acceptability.

“The Legislature’s partnership in the development of wave and tidal energy offers a significant opportunity to support the industry to scale toward production, creating local jobs and energy security.”

Inna Braverman, co-founder and CEO of Eco Wave Power, a Swedish-Israeli company with a pilot project at AltaSea, praised the passage of SB 605 out of the Senate.

“I’m extremely pleased that California is moving fast to implement this historic legislation that will bring wave energy to California. Wave energy is the largest untapped source of clean energy, and its widespread implementation in California will have a large positive impact – both environmentally and economically, as it will create a steady stream of clean jobs through manufacturing, transportation, construction, engineering, and other areas,” Braverman said.

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The Biden Administration is counting on wave and tidal energy to help the US reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and has poured millions into its development. Yet, California has yet to tap into this abundant source of energy that has less variability than other forms of renewable energy like solar and wind.

Worth noting, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that wave and tidal energies have the technical feasibility to supply 30% of the nation’s energy needs. The NREL report also found that California’s outer continental shelf has the potential wave energy resources to power 13 million California homes.

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