Economy sinks wave energy momentum

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Monday, September 01, 2008

THE COAST   The credit crunch — Oregon’s current fiscal bugbear — can now be blamed for one more thing: a downturn in wave-energy projects.

The industry got a black eye when the state’s first test buoy, which was developed by the Irish company Finavera and Oregon State University, sank last fall. Finavera rescued the buoy in August but said it wouldn’t go ahead with plans to install a second experimental unit.

Since the sinking, the number of companies interested in developing projects off the Oregon coast has dropped from seven to three.  According to Edward Einowski, a partner at Stoel Rives who specializes in renewable energy project finance and development, the economy is partially to blame.

Wave energy — unlike wind — is still an unknown risk, which in a downturn makes finding funding all that much harder, he says. The only option for companies with undeveloped projects may be to wait it out.

But “in the development business,” he says, “time is money. It’s going to be painful to have to wait.”  

ABRAHAM HYATT



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