Jacobs completes underground infrastructure engineering for US wave energy test site

Jacobs, a technical professional services company, has completed the underground infrastructure engineering for the PacWave South site, the first full-scale wave energy test facility in the United States.

Illustration/The PacWave test site (Courtesy of Oregon State University)

The PacWave South project in Seal Rock, Oregon, will be the first pre-permitted, full-scale test facility for wave energy devices in the United States, developed jointly by the US Department of Energy (DOE), the State of Oregon, and Oregon State University

Jacobs led the engineering services for the HDD Company, the design-build contractor for the project, to support the evaluation and testing of new energy generation technologies that convert offshore ocean waves to onshore renewable electricity.

PacWave South will be able to accommodate up to 20 wave energy converters of various designs to be tested in real-world, open-sea conditions seven miles off Oregon’s coast.

The project includes four offshore steel conduits up to 120 feet below the seafloor and extending a mile offshore, connecting to a bundle of five onshore high-density polyethylene (HDPE) conduits, all installed using horizontal directional drilling (HDD) methods and ultimately connecting to PacWave’s utility connection and monitoring facility.

The HDD method was chosen to avoid disturbing sensitive wetlands and beach areas and because it allowed the work to be conducted year-round.

Koti Vadlamudi, senior vice president for global business units at Jacobs People & Places Solutions, said: “The engineering for this project was complex, requiring our team to overcome coastal geology challenges, working in the near-shore environment around sensitive coastal wetlands, and meeting a tight schedule to obtain regulatory approval.

“This work reaffirms our commitment to working with organizations that push the boundaries of what’s possible to address climate change and build resilient energy transition solutions in our communities.”

PacWave’s deputy director Dan Hellin added: “Throughout design and construction, the Jacobs team continued to create innovative solutions, bringing value to the community in the development of resilient, sustainable energy sources for the country.

“For instance, the collaboration on disguising the large concrete vault built at the state park, which was designed to splice and transition energy from offshore to onshore conduits as a reconstructed parking lot, ensured beachgoers would not see any disruption from the added wave energy testing infrastructure.”

To remind, French company Nexans secured a contract to provide subsea cables for the PacWave South site. The company will design, engineer, and manufacture 36kV subsea and terrestrial cables that will run across the ocean floor to bring the energy from the berths to shore.

The project is expected to be built and energized by 2024, the developers said earlier.

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