The overall United States’ marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) resource is comprised of river currents, ocean currents, and ocean wave energy. Of the three, wave energy has the greatest resource potential for electricity generation in the country. Within the continental United States, the West Coast in general, and Oregon in particular, appear to have the best wave energy resource. Wave energy resources are transformed into power by using wave energy converters, or WECs. MHK power is still in the stage of prototype devices and small demonstration projects; however, this report explores scenarios with high deployment levels of WEC technology to investigate economic impacts for the State of Oregon, with the assumptions that technological advancements are made and costs are significantly decreased in the future.
To better understand the potential economic impacts of large-scale WEC technology, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management commissioned the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to conduct this economic impact analysis of large-scale WEC deployment in Oregon.
The analysis examined two deployment scenarios in the 2026 ‒ 2045 timeframe. The first scenario assumed 13,000 megawatts (MW) of WEC technology deployed in Oregon during the analysis period and the second scenario assumed 18,000 MW of WEC deployments. Sensitivity studies examined the effects of a robust in-state WEC-based supply chain and WEC device exports outside of Oregon.
The impacts highlighted here could be used in policy and planning discussions and could be scaled to get a sense of the economic development opportunities associated with other WEC deployment scenarios. In addition, the analysis can be used to inform stakeholders in other states about the potential economic impacts of this scale of WEC technology development. All estimates are based on currently available data, with caveats discussed in Section 2.1. It should be noted that scenarios in this report are hypothetical, and deployments of this magnitude would not realistically happen without advancements in technology and a very significant reduction in the cost of energy for WEC technology.
According to the analysis conducted in this study, deploying 13,000 MW of WEC installations in Oregon and assuming a medium-level in-state supply chain could:
- Support a total of 6,800 operation-phase FTE jobs by 2045 when 13,000 MW have been deployed. Support 6,800 operation- phase jobs annually in the years following the analysis period for the remaining lifetime of the MHK projects
- Generate a total of $8.0 billion in economic activity for Oregon during the construction phases
- Support a total of $1 .0 billion in economic activity by 2045 during operation phases. Generate $1.0 billion in annual economic activity in the years following the analysis period for the remaining lifetime of the MHK projects
- Provide $7.4 million in annual lease payments to the State of Oregon