April 5, 2024
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Cal Poly SLO gets $1.5 million to study wave energy


Cal Poly San Luis Obispo received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to continue testing the feasibility of a Central Coast wave energy facility.

Cal Poly’s Institute for Advanced Technology & Public Policy is testing the feasibility of building a Central Coast wave energy park through its CalWave project. The $1.5 million grant is the second the Energy Department gave the college to study wave energy. A previous grant gave the school $750,000 to study the feasibility of wave energy along the Central Coast.

“It’s renewable 24 hours per day,” said Sam Blakeslee, CalWave project director told the Business Times in December. “California has the good fortune of having almost 800 miles of coastline.”

Blakeslee told the Business Times at the time some wave energy systems work like tall pistons that move up and down with the current. Others are like slim cantilevers that lay on their sides and roll in the waves.

California has 840 miles of coastline and the California Energy Commission estimates wave energy could produce 7,500 megawatts of electricity. Pacific Gas & Electric will give the project $200,000; the California Natural Resources Agency will give Cal Poly $125,000; and Perth, Australia-based Protean Wave Energy will give Cal Poly $50,000 in matching funds.

Research conducted by the CalWave project will study construction costs, duration and environmental impacts of a wave energy park. The California Natural Resources Agency is also assisting the project to determine how to coordinate roles of various regulatory bodies during permitting processes.

Europe has wave energy testing centers in Scotland and the United Kingdom.

Houston-based Dynegy, owner of the closed Morro Bay Generating Station, is also considering building a separate wave-energy farm offshore near the site of the closed plant.

• Contact Philip Joens at pjoens@pacbiztimes.com.