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Pacific Gas and Electric to Study Wave Power in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties

Pacific Gas and Electric Company took the first step towards developing generation projects that could convert the abundant wave energy off the coast of Mendocino and Humboldt Counties (California) into electricity by filing two preliminary permit applications with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The WaveConnect projects will begin with resource, environmental, and ocean use studies and if developed would use wave energy conversion (WEC) devices to transform the energy of ocean waves into clean, renewable electricity. If fully developed, the projects could each provide up to 40 MW of clean renewable electric supply.

This would be the first application in North America for a project that would allow multiple WEC device manufacturers to demonstrate their devices on a common site, which could help accelerate the development of wave energy technology.

Most of the WEC devices currently being considered by PG&E float on the ocean surface and generate electricity when waves are present. PG&E, as the lead developer, will be responsible for the permitting of the sites and will encourage the participation of multiple WEC device manufacturers in the projects.

Phased development of the sites would proceed if technical results support feasibility, environmental studies show that any significant impacts can be fully mitigated, and stakeholder considerations can be satisfactorily addressed.

Working closely with stakeholders, PG&E will take a leading role in identifying and mitigating any potential impacts to the marine environment in order to maintain the beauty and diversity of coastal waters. PG&E, working with environmental agencies and consultants, will undertake studies of the water resource and its various ecosystems. The project will be designed to minimize effects on the environment, coastal processes, and ocean users.


bill borsheim

Can wave projects be combined with tidal projects to more effectively tap energy at the same places?


Wave energy is definately a great idea. Imagine the size of the power plant needed for a wavepool that big. For those interested check out this link. They have already proven this concept.


There are a number of companies that have developed technology for generating electricity from waves. Here is another one:

This system involves large sausage-shaped things that generate electricity as the waves force the sausage to bend.

I don't know enough about either one to discuss the relative merits however.

The PG&E announcement doesn't say what type of system they are going with, which is kind of interesting. Given the small size of the planned installation, I am guessing that they are at a stage where they intend to evaluate several technologies.


Eric: my understanding from the article is that they plan to invite any number of strategies to be applied to the same location.


it sounds like a good idea but I don't think that wave and tidal generation would be all that compatible. There are all sorts of ingenious WEC devices and they are usually located some distance offshore whereas tidal flows are at their most effective in places like estuaries and inlets.

Most WEC devices work by harnessing the vertical movement of the waves whereas tidal power generation works from horizontal flow of water.It's hard to see how you could combine the two.

Shaun Mann

combine the two:

a dam-like structure with floating bits that rise and fall with the waves and heck, may as well mount some wind mills on it while you're at it

you'd have synergies in mounting structures, power structure and connection, etc, but

how many places have big, consistent waves, a large change in tide, and a local environment that you can prove won't be altered by the addition of your equipment?

environmental questions are the biggest barrier to tidal and wave power installations. nobody wants to give permission to install anything anywhere. that is what is significant about this post


If these floaters are near enough to shore to be seen, the NIMBYs will block it. Imagine a float every 100 meters that generates .5 MW of power at maximum capacity. 80 of them would stretech for miles to produce the 40 MW goal at peak, and perhaps twice as many miles to average that production.

John L.

I'm a grid-tied Californian, who offsets almost all the electricity my family uses with a home PV system. I'm very enthusiastic about this wave energy project. I would like more details than what are provided in this press release. Does anyone know where to find more?


John L,

YOu can look at this link for more on the Pelamis North Sea installation.

And this for organically inspired systems:


One of the more ingenious design concepts for a wave energy generator:


It seems there are more projects in the works. There is one off the coast of Oregon by Finavera.

Scotland is supposed to be starting the largest wave power project soon.

However, even the largest of the projects is only giving enough power for about 2500 homes.

Somebody mentioned Pelamis videos. I have some of the links for Pelamis and others on my site at

bill borsheim

Seems like such devices along docks, breakwaters & other man-made structures would be unobtrusive. Also, really effective devices would lessen erosion from waves pounding on the shore...should be welcomed by shoreside land owners.

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