The Pacific Marine Energy Center South Energy Test Site (PMEC-SETS)—a first of its kind, Energy Department-funded, grid-connected, full-scale test facility for wave energy conversion technologies—will operate under a rebranded name, PacWave. In conjunction with the name change, the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC) will now be referred to as the Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC). While functioning as separate entities, PacWave and PMEC contribute to a growing suite of marine energy testing, research and development (R&D), partnerships, and educational opportunities in the Pacific Northwest. Rebranding will improve clarity about the structure and capabilities of the PacWave test site and the PMEC research and testing consortium.
Independently operated by Oregon State University's (OSU) College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, PacWave is an important platform for marine energy developers to prove their devices in dynamic, open-ocean environments. Rebranded to draw attention to not only the Pacific Ocean where it's located but also to the potential for a new wave of marine energy advancement, the facility will offer pre-permitted testing of up to 20 utility-scale wave energy converters and will have the ability to test multiple arrays simultaneously. Several of PMEC's leadership team serving on the PacWave project management team will continue the partnership during the development of the facility, which is currently in the permitting phase. PacWave is estimated to formally open for business in the 2021–2022 timeframe.
As part of congressional action establishing WPTO's marine energy research program, the NNMREC was initially founded over a decade ago as part of a group of university-located national marine renewable energy centers. The Energy Department supports NNMREC's mission to accelerate advancement of marine energy technology, inform regulatory and policy decisions, and close vital gaps in scientific understanding, with a focus on student growth and development. PMEC maintains this same mission, and functions as a coordinating body between its three partnering universities—University of Washington, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Oregon State University—which all maintain portfolios focused on marine energy R&D, outreach and education, as well as various laboratory and open water testing facilities.
While PMEC does not operate the test facilities within its universities, the organization serves a vital role in working with external stakeholders and organizing and aligning the research initiatives of its partnering institutions to meet the needs of the marine industry.
DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) supports early-stage research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that make energy more affordable and strengthen the reliability, resilience, and security of the U.S. electric grid. For more information on water power research, development, and testing see the EERE Water Power Technology Office's website.