WorldWide Drilling Resource

15 MAY 2022 WorldWide Drilling Resource® Wave Energy Testing Facility Begins with HDD Adapted from Information by Oregon State University and PacWave If you have ever stood by the ocean and watched waves roll in, curling repeatedly into the sand or sending spray sky-high against a rocky shore, you have experienced the seemingly infinite power of the ocean. What if some of that renewable energy could be harnessed to power homes and businesses? Researchers are currently working to develop devices to harvest energy from waves. PacWave, based at Oregon State University, is helping the energy industry test new ideas. After nearly a decade of efforts to obtain regulatory approval, work is underway on a wave energy testing facility for Oregon State University, to be located about seven miles off the coast near Newport, Oregon. PacWave South will be the first commercial-scale, utility gridconnected wave energy test site in the United States. The approximately $80 million facility will offer wave energy developers the opportunity to try different technologies for harnessing the power of ocean waves and transmitting energy to the local electrical grid. Power and data cables buried below the seafloor will connect the ocean test site to a shore-based facility. Construction began with underground installation of conduits to house these subsea cables. Crews assembled in the parking lot of the Driftwood Beach State Recreation Site, where horizontal directional drilling (HDD) commenced to install cable conduits. After 163 days of HDD operations, the last section of offshore conduit was pushed into the ground. A total of four offshore conduits were successfully installed. This represents over a million pounds of steel conduit and more than four miles in length, making this a massive undertaking. Work has now shifted to onshore drilling operations to install terrestrial conduits. Once this work is complete, the focus will shift to civil construction work at the Driftwood Beach State Recreation Site. “An underground vault in the Driftwood parking lot will house the cable connections,” said Dan Hellin, PacWave’s deputy director. “When all the work is complete, the only thing visible at Driftwood will be some manhole covers. Everything else will be buried.” The project is being completed with minimal disturbance to the beach. A sound wall made of shipping containers encloses the work site to reduce noise and visibility. The research center is expected to begin operations after subsea cables are installed in 2022 or 2023. With its connection to the local power grid, the PacWave South facility will provide wave energy developers with the ability to test both the efficacy of devices, as well as mechanisms for turning captured energy into a commodity with value on the energy market. There is currently no U.S. facility for developers to measure the electrical and environmental performance of their devices on this scale. The testing site is located on a sandy-bottomed stretch of the Pacific Ocean away from popular commercial and recreational fishing reefs. The ocean site will have four different testing locations, which combined can accommodate up to 20 wave energy devices at a time. PacWave South is supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, the state of Oregon, and other public and private entities. Oregon State’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences is managing construction and operation of the facility. Photo of HDD operations for the wave energy testing facility, courtesy of PacWave. ENV