Preparation works for cable installation at PacWave site about to kick off

Oregon State University has shared the latest updates and the upcoming steps in the construction 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.

Once completed, the site 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.

According to Oregon State University, the next step in the construction, which was expected to commence around 7 August, will include crews working onshore and from a vessel anchored about a mile offshore Driftwood Beach State Recreation Site south of Newport.

Workers aboard the vessel and additional crews at the recreation site will inspect and prepare cable conduits for next summer’s planned installation of power and data cables.

“A mile sounds far, but the offshore support vessel Seacor Lee is a large ship, and it will appear very close,” said Burke Hales, PacWave’s chief scientist and a professor at the OSU College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. “We just want to make sure people are aware of what’s happening.”

The cables, which are each about 12 miles long, are being manufactured in Norway by the Paris-based firm Nexans.

As part of the upcoming work, the ends of the cable conduits which were installed and sealed in 2022 will be opened so they can be flushed and messenger lines can be installed.

The work at Driftwood is expected to be completed by early September.

Work is also underway on the shoreside utility connection and monitoring facility, which is expected to be substantially completed by the time the cable installation begins next year, Oregon State University noted.

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