The State of Oregon is interested in developing the capacity to harvest wave energy off its coast as a clean, renewable resource. An important part of moving this agenda forward must include understanding the potential effects of wave energy technology on the ecological and physical components of our coastal ecosystems. A workshop to address these issues was organized by a steering committee at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon, on October 11-12, 2007.
A diverse group of some 50 marine scientists from around the country worked to i) develop an initial assessment of the potential impacting agents and ecological effects of wave energy development along Oregon’s coast, and ii) develop a general conceptual framework of physical and biological relationships that can be applied to specific wave energy projects. To accomplish these goals, a series of breakout sessions were utilized to determine:
- What is known about important wave energy parks and their associated components (such as cables, anchors, buoys) and their effect on the physical and biological components of the ecosystem? What is unknown about these relationships, including identification of key information gaps?
- What is the level of uncertainty, or level of agreement, among scientists about these interactions?
- Can we prioritize important ecological issues (e.g., key interactions)?
- What studies, monitoring, or mitigation measures should be employed to help minimize effects?
Two sets of breakout sessions were convened – the first dealt with “receptors,” or those elements of the system where significant concern exists. The second focused on “stressors,” those factors that may change as wave energy systems are installed, operated, or decommissioned. A summary and the initial key findings from each breakout session are provided in the report.