This study analyzes the economic impacts of building a wave energy commercial generation project in Clatsop County, Oregon. The modeled project is relatively small, and was produced by reviewing relevant wave energy literature and working with two local wave energy developers to estimate the expenditures and related costs of the project. We find that the construction and ongoing operation of a commercial wave energy project would create gains in employment, income, and output in the area as well as preparing Astoria for further wave energy development.
Concern about the full costs of our reliance on fossil fuels, as well as an increased recognition of the vast energy-generating potential of ocean waves, has created renewed interest in wave energy projects. Compared to other renewable energy sources like wind and solar, wave energy is still in early development but project sites in Europe and small-scale demonstrations elsewhere have increased interest. Additionally, the Oregon coast has been identified as an area particularly suited for wave energy generation.
In order to estimate the total economic impact of the project we used IMPLAN, an input-output software. IMPLAN uses social-accounting matrices (SAMs) to model the industry interactions in the economy. These interactions are used to estimate the multipliers associated with expansions of various industries, which produce the total economic impacts.
After consulting relevant literature and wave energy developers, we created a hypothetical project that we feel could be developed in the near future at the Camp Rilea site. The project would have an installed capacity of 5 MW and a capacity factor of 35%. Using data from the wave energy developers and the literature, we created an amalgam of available cost information that matched the characteristics of the project site.