Since summer 2012, NNMREC has operated an open ocean test site off the coast at Newport, OR, north of Yaquina Head. This site is 1 square nautical mile, between 2 and 3 nautical miles from shore in Oregon’s territorial sea. At this site, developers can conduct self-contained tests of their devices or connect to the Ocean Sentinel instrumentation buoy, NNMREC’s mobile ocean test buoy.

The test site is not grid connected, meaning the power does not come back to shore. Instead, the wave energy device is connected to OSU’s Ocean Sentinel buoy. This vessel-shaped buoy is attached to the wave energy device by a cable. The Ocean Sentinel has an onboard resistor element, which will consume the power generated by the device, similar to the type of resistor element in electric heaters. It will also measure the amount of power generated and the characteristics of wave, wind, and currents.

The Ocean Sentinel is typically stationed 2.5 nautical miles offshore from Yaquina Head, north of Newport. The wave energy converters (WECs) being tested and the Ocean Sentinel itself are moored with approximately 125 meters separation, and connected by a power and communication umbilical cable. The Ocean Sentinel can accommodate WECs with average power outputs of up to 100 kW. NETS is currently capable of testing from May through September, with an excellent portfolio of capabilities to research all aspects of technology development (technology, environment, social). Devices can continue to operate in the ocean test site throughout the year to study other aspects of their devices, such as survivability, biofouling, mooring and anchoring, environmental effect, and other important aspects of their technologies.

NNMREC’s ocean test site ranges in depth from 45 to 55m. It has a gently sloping sandy bottom. Significant wave heights (SWH) average 1 - 2.5m during summer months at 6 - 9 second energy periods. During winter months these increase to SWH averaging 2 - 5m at 8 - 12 second energy periods, with maximum significant wave heights of 7 - 14m.

NNMREC has characterized the environmental conditions of the site, and has conducted a significant level of environmental monitoring, including baseline studies for benthic habitat, marine mammal observations, electromagnetic frequency studies (EMF), and acoustics. The site is fully permitted through the NEPA process, Department of State Lands, the US Coast Guard, and the Army Corp of Engineers.

Click here to learn more about the Ocean Sentinel Instrumentation Buoy.