The United States’ marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) resources are comprised of river currents, ocean currents, and ocean wave energy. Of the three, ocean wave energy has the greatest resource potential for electricity generation in the nation. Within the continental United States, the West Coast in general, and Oregon in particular, has the most promising wave energy resource. Wave energy resources are transformed into power by using wave energy converters (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 seven coastal counties in Oregon, with the assumptions that technological advancements are made and costs significantly decrease in the future.
To begin understanding the potential economic impacts of large-scale WEC technology, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) commissioned the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (N REL) to conduct an economic impact analysis of large - scale WEC deployment for Oregon coastal counties. This report follows a previously published report by BOEM and NREL on the jobs and economic impacts of WEC technology for the entire state (Jimenez and Tegen 2015).
As in Jimenez and Tegen (2015), this analysis examined two deployment scenarios in the 2026 ‒ 2045 time frame: the first scenario assumed 13,000 megawatts (MW) of WEC technology deployed during the analysis period, and the second assumed 18,000 MW of WEC technology deployed by 2045. Both scenarios require major technology and cost improvement s in the WEC devices. The study is on very large-scale deployment so readers can examine and discuss the potential of a successful and very large WEC industry. The 13,000-MW is used as the basis for the county analysis as it is the smaller of the two scenarios. Sensitivity studies examine d the effects of a robust in-state WEC supply chain. The region of analysis is comprised of the seven coastal counties in Oregon — Clatsop, Coos, Curry, Douglas, Lane, Lincoln, and Tillamook — so estimates of jobs and other economic impacts are specific to this coastal county area.
The impacts highlighted here can be used in policy and planning decisions and scaled to get a sense of the economic development opportunities associated with other WE C deployment scenarios. In addition, the analysis can be used to inform stakeholders in other states and sub-state regions about the potential economic effects 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 and a significant reduction in the cost of energy produced from WEC technology. Important issues like siting and permitting projects are assumed to be resolved, as the focus is on economic impacts. Concerns about project siting would need to be addressed in actual deployment of WEC technology.
According to the analysis conducted in this study, deploying 13,000 MW of WEC installations in Oregon and assuming a modest in-state supply chain could:
- Support a total of 5,500 operation-phase full-time-equivalent ( FTE ) jobs by 2045 and 5,500 operation-phase jobs annually in the years following the analysis period for the remaining lifetime of the MHK projects
- Support a total of $1.4 billion in economic activity for Oregon counties during the construction phase
- Support a total of $ 0.6 billion annually in economic activity by 2045 during operation phases and generate $0.6 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, with approximately $2.2 million allocated to the counties in which the WECs are located (i.e., the county with the closest coastline to the project).
Figure ES - 1 shows the estimated jobs in coastal Oregon counties supported by WEC installations throughout the period of analysis. Each scenario’s construction-phase jobs are represented by blue, red, or green bars, and two lines show the FTE jobs estimated during the operation phases. The operation-phase jobs in 2046 indicate the number of jobs in the years following the analysis period for the remaining lifetime of the MHK projects.
The impact of WEC technology is even greater for the entire state (see Figures ES-2 and Figures 3 and 4). This report only discusses the impact of WEC installations to the coastal count y economies (see Jimenez and Tegen 2015 for an analysis of state-wide impacts) and does not assess spill-over effects from coastal to the inland counties of Oregon. Compared to a total of 5,500 operation-phase FTE jobs by 2045 in the coastal counties, WEC installations are estimated to support 6,800 operation-phase FTE jobs in the entire state (under the 13,000 MW deployment scenario). Correspondingly, the annual construction-phase FTE jobs supported in the state of Oregon are greater than in the coastal counties alone.