Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Wave Energy Demonstration Project in New Jersey Faces Opposition

Carolyn Elefant, over at the LOCE Wind and Wave Energy Blog has an interesting post on the future of a demonstration wave energy project off the New Jersey Coast.

According to a recent article in the Asbury Park Press, Ocean Power Technologies, inc. is considering building a commercial-scale power station off the New Jersey coast using what the company calls a PowerBuoy. The technology consists of a buoy anchored to the seabed by a piston-like structure, which moves as the buoy bobs with the rise and fall of waves. The movement drives a generator on the ocean floor, producing electricity that is sent to shore with an underwater cable.

Ocean Power Technologies has successfully tested the system on a very small scale, and is now considering a demonstration project for further testing. But in the wake of Gov. Codey's recent 15-month moratorium on wind-farms in coastal areas, concerned citizens are raising questions about regulatory review of Ocean Power Technologies' proposals.

The question is, what's the right level of regulatory review for these, and similar small-scale clean energy demonstration projects? According to the Asbury Park Press article, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has taken the position that even the small demonstration project will require state waterfront development permits, and other regulators may get involved as well.

Public review and input on projects that use public resources is always important, but as Carolyn Elefant points out, overly intensive regulation of these small data-gathering demonstration projects might not be in the public interest in the long-run. Check out her blog for more on the topic.

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