PacWave North is an established site for wave energy testing consisting on a test site for stand alone, small-scale, prototype, and maritime market technologies. This site offers streamlined permitting (less than one year). Long term monitoring is in place with wave, met, ocean measurements, and habitat surveys.
The nearby PacWave South site is still in development, and will offer pre-permitted, grid connected wave energy testing in a high-energy, open ocean environment. Additional information about PacWave South can be found on the metadata form here.
PacWave North is located 2 miles off the Pacific Coast near Newport, Oregon.
PacWave North is fully authorized under state regulations by Oregon Department of State Lands, most recently renewed in 2019. No FERC license is required.
Early 2000s – initial Oregon State University (OSU) research
2008 – OSU establishes Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC)
2012 – Deployment of half-scale WET-NZ WEC and Ocean Sentinel instrumentation buoy (August – October)
2013 – Ocean Sentinel instrumentation buoy deployed to study mooring systems and conduct further environmental monitoring
2014 – No WEC tests, Ocean Sentinel not deployed. Minimal environmental monitoring.
2015 – Ocean Sentinel anchors removed
2019 – Ocean Sentinel refit and upgrade
Planned to be operational again in 2020
Key Environmental Issues
Key environmental issues that were addressed in the development and ongoing monitoring of PacWave North involved underwater noise, changes in benthic habitat, and the potential for marine mammal entanglement.
Papers, Reports, Research Studies
- Spatiotemporal drivers of seabird distribution at the Pacific Marine Energy Center off Newport, OR (Master's Thesis)
- PMEC-NETS Annual Operations & Monitoring Report 2014. Prepared for the Adaptive Management
- Environmental Studies at PMEC: Addressing Information Needs for Permitting/Testing & Future Environmental Research Campaign
- Pacific Marine Energy Center benthic physical conditions, macrofauna, and groundfish abundance
- Pacific Continental Shelf Environmental Assessment (PaCSEA): Aerial Seabird and Marine Mammal Surveys off Northern California, Oregon, and Washington
- PMEC-NETS Annual Operations & Monitoring Report 2013
- Underwater Acoustics Measurements Near the Ocean Sentinel at PMEC’s North Energy Test Site (NETS) Facility in PMEC-NETS Annual Operations & Monitoring Report 2013 Appendix B
- Oregon State University and Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center Wave Energy Test Project
Baseline Assessment: PacWave North Test Site
|Receptor||Study Description||Design and Methods||Results||Status|
|Marine Mammals||Marine mammal distribution surveys||Aerial surveys 2011-2012 (Adams et al. 2014)||Gray whales (17 sightings of 26 total individuals), and rarely, minke whales (1 sighting), at similar depths (0-100 meter depth stratum) as the project area. Pinnipeds were frequently observed at the 0-100 meter depth stratum; California sea lions were most abundant (76 sightings of 157 individuals), then harbor seals (37 sightings of 53 individuals), northern elephant seals (15 sightings of 16 individuals), Steller sea lion (3 individuals), and northern fur seal (3 sightings of 4 individuals).||Completed|
|Birds, Seabirds||Marbled murrelet distribution surveys||Vessel-based strip transects from May 2013 to October 2015 (Porquez 2016)||During surveys in the Project area, a total of 35 marbled murrelets were observed, primarily concentrated shoreward of the WEC deployment area and adjacent nearshore waters near the mouth of the Yaquina Bay, with the exception of a couple of murrelet observations just north and west of the deployment area. These surveys indicate that occurrences would likely be limited to occasional occurrences of 1-2 murrelets in the WEC deployment area, but that they would be expected to occur along the subsea cable route and vessel route between Yaquina Bay and the WEC deployment area.||Completed|
|Birds, Seabirds||Seabird distribution surveys||Aerial surveys from 2011-2012 (Adams et al. 2014)||The inner shelf waters (less than 100- meter depth) around Newport had an influx of seabirds such as shearwaters, northern fulmars, Cassin’s auklets, rhinoceros auklets, and brown pelicans in the fall. Thus, seabirds would likely occur and forage in the WEC test site throughout the year; abundance would likely be highest in the fall, and species composition would change throughout the year.||Completed|
Post-Installation Monitoring: PacWave North Test Site
|Stressor||Receptor||Study Description||Design and Methods||Results||Status|
|Collision||Marine Mammals, Reptiles||Monitoring for marine mammals and derelict gear with possibility for entanglement||Opportunistic visual observations||No marine mammals, sea turtles or listed species were observed in proximity to or in the NETS during any of the 20 site visits. There were no dead, injured, entangled, or impinged marine mammals or sea turtles observed in the project area before, during or after active deployment. In addition, there were no observations of pinnipeds hauled out on project structures.||Completed|
|Noise||Marine Mammals||Acoustic Monitoring (Haxel 2013, NNMREC 2014)||Passive acoustic recordings using an autonomous drifting underwater hydrophone||Received energy levels indicate ambient noise levels are strongly influenced by acoustic emissions from nearby vessel traffic in the area. The spectral signature of sounds generated by the motion of mooring hardware (chain noise) associated with the NETS facility was detected and identified as a set of 5 localized spectral peaks (4.6 - 5.0 kHz, 5.2 - 5.5 kHz, 9.0 - 9.4 kHz, 10.0 - 10.6 kHz, and 12.1 – 13.0 kHz) observed at a range of distances. Despite the contribution of these sound sources to ambient levels, SPLrms integrated across the 60 Hz - 13 kHz frequency range remained below NMFS threshold criteria (120 dB) throughout the recording period.||Completed|
|Habitat Change||Fish||Groundfish monitoring (NNMREC 2014, 2015)||Trawling||Fish collections made in May 2014 were lower in diversity (H’) and number of species (S) than previous collections and distinct from most other collections in composition. However, the first three and a half years of sampling (June 2010 to December 2013) were conducted during La Niña conditions with an expected switch to El Niño in early 2014. Additionally, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation was negative from 2006 to 2013 and became positive in January 2014. Thus, starting in 2014, ocean conditions were quite different on the Oregon central coast compared to all the data collected at NETS prior.||Completed|
|Habitat Change||Invertebrates||Benthic conditions and organisms monitoring (NNMREC 2014, 2015)||Sediment grabs, trawling||Sediment conditions at the twelve established sampling stations around the Ocean Sentinel deployment location during 2014 did not vary from observations made previous years. Benthic community recovery was rapid (i.e., within 2 months) and species diversity and relative abundances of benthic macroinvertebrates was “indistinguishable” pre- (2010 and 2011) and post-installation (2012-2014).||Completed|