Economy sinks wave energy momentum

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Archives - September 2008
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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There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

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