Belinda Batten of Oregon State University stands in front of a wave energy generator prototype. Jeff Brady/NPR hide caption
toggle caption Jeff Brady/NPR
Think renewable energy and the wind and sun come to mind. But some day it may be possible to add ocean energy to that list.
The fledgling wave energy industry is now getting a boost from the federal government. The Department of Energy is spending up to $40 million to build a wave energy test facility off the Oregon Coast.
Wave energy has a long way to go before it’s ready to power the lights in your house. At this point engineers aren’t even quite sure how best to capture the power of the water.
“We don’t know what the right kind of wave energy converter is,” says Belinda Batten, executive associate dean of the College of Engineering at Oregon State University.
Batten says part of the challenge is the ocean moves in different directions depending on where you are, “It goes up and down when you’re out in the water. As you’re getting close to the coast it’s going back and forth in surge. Within the