The ocean mapping and zoning process won't stop the West Coast's first commercial wave energy park. Ocean Power Technologies' demonstration project near Reedsport, Oregon is grandfathered in. The company plans to launch the first of 10 massive floating wave energy generators around the middle of next year.
So, OPTT's little 1.5MW project was grandfather in. That's equal to one (1) industry standard wind turbine. Hardly a big deal and certainly not utility scale.
The problem OPTT faces is that the 1.5 MW project is so tiny as to be economically unsustainable. The larger plan was to have greatly increased the Reedsport project to utility scale and within that larger field the 1.5 MW would have contributed. However, the zoning issue throws the larger project into question.
Also you cannot overlook that the stringent zoning plans are indicative of the adittude of local interests. Previously, the assumption was that Oregon would gladly embrace wave energy projects. The decision on zoning calls that position into question. Rather than embrace wave energy projects, Oregon is in the process of enacting pervassive restrictions.
If you will recall there was a time when Oregon was paying 50% of a WEC project cost, and paying up front before project completion. That's changed. And now stringent zoning.
The effect will be significant on OPTT's Oregon plans. First, expect further delays, as if there haven't been enough already (remember the Reedsport PB150 was to have launched in 2009). Second, the financing of the project will become more difficult with continuing delays, zoning and increase political hostility being factors.
And don't dismiss a change in the political popularity of wave energy. Wave energy depends on political forces to obtain the healty subsidies for its very survival. It will not be lost on environmentalists that a PowerBuoy is 10 times the weight of a wind turbine. They understand the impact that will have.