OSU engineers Annette von Jouanne, Ted Brekken and their students are creating prototypes that draw energy from ocean waves. Their lab, the Wallace Energy Systems & Renewables Facility, honors the late OSU electrical engineer Alan Wallace
The powerful swells of Oregon’s waves were felt in the halls of Congress last spring.
That’s because U.S. representatives heard firsthand about the gathering momentum of OSU–led research into the potential of the ocean’s motion to generate electricity. Testifying in May before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment at the invitation of Oregon Rep. Darlene Hooley, Professor Annette von Jouanne reported on her team’s latest technological advances in capturing energy from the constant heave of offshore waves. The fifth and sixth prototypes of OSU’s novel, direct–drive generator are being tested in College of Engineering laboratories as well as where it really counts — in the Pacific Ocean off Newport.
In telling congressional leaders about ongoing steps by private industry to develop wave parks off the Oregon coast, von Jouanne stressed the need for greater federal investments and interagency cooperation to streamline permitting processes. Also needed, she said, are more environmental and ecological impact studies.
"Things are really picking up speed now," says von Jouanne, a national leader in wave–energy R&D. "Political leaders are understanding how wave–produced electricity could contribute significantly to our energy portfolio. They’re also seeing the value of a focused, national center to move research forward."