California’s “wave power” potential

Department of Energy has reported that waves off California’s 1100mi coastline could generate more than 140 terawatt hours of electricity a year, enough to power 14 million homes, if tidal and wave energy was developed to its maximum potential. Wave energy uses a variety of devices placed in the ocean to generate electricity, but the technology has not been widely used in the United States.
The Department of Energy is sponsoring three demonstration projects off the coast of Oregon, in Washington’s Puget Sound area and in Maine. Currently, California has no wave energy project up and running, but the California Ocean Protection Council says one project off the coast of San Onofre has received a preliminary permit. The permitting process is complex and involves several federal and state agencies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
The Energy Department’s Water Power Program is trying to quantify the nation’s potential water-power resources so that investors, developers and policymakers can make decisions about where to place them. Pacific Gas & Electric last year suspended its Humboldt WaveConnect Project, a pilot project off the coast of Humboldt County, amid opposition from some environmentalists and concerns about the lengthy permitting process, escalating costs and feasibility. Many Humboldt County environmentalists opposed WaveConnect over concerns that it would damage local fisheries and marine ecology.
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