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Seaside Stories

Wave Energy

April 6, 2011 | by Shanda Bonn

Another successful SOLV Beach Clean Up has come and gone. Spring is slowly making itself known as intermittent patches of brilliant sunlight break through the clouds. And Earth Month is now upon us. Yep, Earth Month. It’s not official, but as the popularity of the environmental movement has taken hold over the years, events and activities have gone beyond one day or one weekend to events all month long.

Each year since 1970 people around the nation have been observing Earth Day on April 22nd. Earth Day began as a peaceful protest organized by a US Senator upon the meltdown of fuel rods in the Savannah River nuclear plant near Aiken, South Carolina. The public was highly unaware of the events unfolding and the government was none to keen to let them know. But activists felt it was time for the American people to stand up, take notice and make a difference.

Taking a walk along the beach recently, both soothed and awed by the pounding surf, I thought about the power of the waves, and a recent article I read came to mind. The subject was wave energy, but never having heard of it, I quickly passed it by. But after my time at the beach, I decided to give the article a second look.

Wave energy refers to energy generated from the power of waves near their surface. There are different types of devices designed to convert wave energy, but the ones that seems to be most in use at the moment as researchers continue to investigate this source of renewable energy are buoys. Columbia Power Technologies, an Oregon-based alternative energy company, recently launched a prototype wave energy buoy in the gentle waters of the Puget Sound as it races to be one of the first suppliers of wave-generated energy.

There is one competitor ahead of them who has already launched wave energy buoys off the coast of Reedsport, Oregon, and who hopes to have enough of them in the water by 2012 to power 400 homes!

I am proud of our very “green” state, so often at the forefront of the environmental movement. And I expect we’ll see a few of these buoys off our own shores right here in Seaside sometime in the future (as long as they don’t interfere with the crabbing and fishing!) As a matter of fact, not too long ago, the Oregon Wave Energy Trust held their Ocean Renewable Energy Conference here in Seaside.

Our coastline is among a few places in the world that has the key elements to tap into wave energy – namely frequent and powerful storms several miles off the coast that generate powerful wave energy. I find it amazing that our ocean waters have so much to offer!

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