Pacific Gas & Electric has inked a groundbreaking deal with Finavera Renewables, pledging to buy the equivalent of 2MW of wave energy-derived power by 2012 - becoming, in the process, the first U.S. utility to make such an investment. The purchase could lead to the construction of a wave farm 2.5 miles off the coast of Eureka in Humboldt County, in Northern California; the farm would create a network of "AquaBuoys," the Canadian company's wave turbines.
Excitement over wave energy's rosy prospects in coastal states like California have led many to deem it this decade's new wind power, though large-scale projects such as this one still face several regulatory hurdles from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). In order to obtain approval, Jason Bak, Finavera's CEO, says that his company will first need to ameliorate its technology and get the necessary funding.Roger Bedard, an analyst at the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto who co-wrote a report on wave energy, is bullish about its future: "An average of 37,000 megawatts of energy dissipates on California's 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) of coastline. Using present-day technology, a maximum of about 20 percent of that energy could be converted into useful electricity."
Bak is optimistic of wave energy's future upside, claiming that it could one day provide up to 5% of the country's energy needs - the equivalent of 300GW of power. His company's goal, he explains, is to generate power that will cost 5-8 cents per kW hour, an objective it won't be able to reach solely with PG&E;'s contract. Give it about 98MW more, he says, and we'll be getting closer.
Via ::Silicon Valley: PG&E; to invest in wave energy (news website)