The wave climate along the west coast of North America presents great opportunities for the development of offshore renewable energy, yet initial assessments of the potential ecological effects of wave energy development have only just started. An enhanced regional understanding of the biological resources in the area is needed, and a key information gap is the distribution of both physical substrata and important biological communities. An initial renewable energy project targeted for Oregon is a mobile Ocean Test Facility developed by the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC), led by Oregon State University (OSU), for testing wave energy converters. In addition, a number of wave and wind energy projects have been proposed for the Pacific Northwest of the US. In this chapter, an overview of the oceanographic characteristics of the region is presented, summarizing some of the interactions of concern, and highlighting baseline research projects focused on seabirds, marine mammals and benthic ecology in preparation for siting and deploying the NNMREC Ocean Test Facility and offshore renewable structures generally in the region.
This is a chapter from Humanity and the Sea: Marine Renewable Energy Technology and Environmental Interactions.