An illustration of PacWave showing its location offshore. Please contact the webmaster for assistance reading the information in this photograph.
Illustration showing the PacWave South wave energy test facility.
Courtesy of OSU

PacWave South will be the first pre-permitted and grid-connected test facility for wave energy technologies in the continental United States. Located off the coast of Newport, Oregon, the faculty and staff of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS) at Oregon State University (OSU) are developing the facility. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected the OSU-led team in December 2016, and the facility is expected to begin initial operation and testing by 2025. 


In addition to PacWave South, OSU also operates a second test site called PacWave North. PacWave North is already operational and can support testing of smaller prototypes, and technologies for powering a blue economy. Located two miles off the Pacific Coast near Newport, Oregon, PacWave North offers a site in state waters with streamlined permitting; the expected time to permit is less than one year. The site is shallower than PacWave South, closer to port, and not connected to the grid. 

A photo of the construction team building the Utility Connection and Monitoring Facility. The team can be seen working around the building with three people installing the roof.
The construction team prepares to install the roof on the Control Building at the Utility Connection and Monitoring Facility.
Image from Dan Hellin, Oregon State University

PacWave South will be able to simultaneously host up to 20 wave energy converters (WECs) in four separate test berths with a maximum total power output of 20 megawatts. Each test berth will be equipped with a dedicated transmission cable, and the site is pre-permitted for multiple types of WEC technologies. 

To help transition WECs to full-scale commercialization, the site will facilitate in-water tests for performance and efficiency and extended demonstrations of reliability, operations, and maintenance in an open ocean, grid-connected operational setting. Enhanced environmental monitoring systems, along with a 25-year Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) operating license, will streamline the testing process and reduce risk and costs for technology developers. The offshore test site will be connected to the Utility Connection and Monitoring Facility (UCMF), which will allow developers to monitor the data that is being collected at PacWave South and distribute the energy generated by test devices to the local grid, operated by Central Lincoln People's Utility District. 

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PacWave South is one of the ways WPTO is helping to make it faster, easier, and more cost effective for technology developers to test their devices while abiding by marine regulatory protections and standards.
Video from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office

With support from DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), PacWave South will enable technology developers to test device performance in real-world conditions for prolonged periods of time to demonstrate technical viability. The site will also allow developers to determine methods for cost reduction and advance marine energy technologies toward cost-effective power delivery and commercial readiness. 

A photo of the Seacor Lee out at sea on a cloudy and gray overcast day.
The Seacor Lee supporting commercial diving operations during the construction phase of PacWave South.
Image from Dan Hellin, Oregon State University

The PacWave team maintains a news page as well as a construction updates page with the latest information on the PacWave South test site’s development. Learn more about the PacWave project team and visit the FAQ page to learn how this facility will help accelerate wave energy technology development.