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About That Not-New Funding for a Wave Energy Test Center in California

The U.S. Department of Energy has been less than transparent about the process, so some confusion is understandable, but it was still weird to see a spate of stories in the past week about Cal Poly’s Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy receiving $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to continue study of a possible grid-connected wave energy test center off the Central California coast.

This money actually happened several months ago, coming on top of $750,000 the DOE had previously awarded the not quite nascent California project. Here’s a grab from a DOE rundown [PDF] of wave energy-related funding trickled out in the past several years:

weird april 2016 cal poly news-rule

The local San Luis Obispo coverage appears to have been prompted by a press release from Cal Poly, but you’d think the website Tidal Energy Today would have realized this wasn’t exactly hot news, having covered it last November.

The real news to keep an eye out for is a funding opportunity announcement (or something resembling a FOA) for the next phase for the test center – money to get an actual project rolling. Oregon State University has received millions from the DOE already, as well, and is aiming to build the test center off Newport, Oregon. As I reported in February in the Portland Business Journal, Congress late last year appropriated $5 million to be allocated for a test center in the current fiscal year, and the DOE has said it “intends to conduct a competitive solicitation to select one site for final engineering and design.”