Three of the main pillars of renewable energy are solar, wind and wave power. A lack of investment allowed foreign markets to jump ahead of the United States in the development of solar and wind energy, but the race to develop wave power is still shaping up and Oregon Iron Works in Vancouver is at the forefront.
Denny wrapped up Week 4 of his five-week "Let's Get to Work" jobs tour Thursday with a visit to OIW and a tutorial about its ground-breaking wave-energy buoy program.
OIW has been in business since 1944 and has been a pioneering force in the fabrication and manufacturing industries. OIW is continuing that trend with the construction of a prototype wave-energy buoy for New Jersey-based Ocean Power Technologies. The nearly completed 130-foot-long buoy will be installed in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Reedsport, OR this summer.
It could take a year or two to learn if the buoy works as intended. OIW will continue to experiment with designs and lowering costs in the meantime, but the hope is that this initial prototype will ultimately lead to OIW establishing Vancouver as the leader in ocean energy technology.
"Denmark invested early in wind and you've got a country that's about the size and population of Washington that has 60 percent of the market share because they invested early," said David Gibson, OIW Renewable Energy Program Manager. "Wave energy, tidal energy; those technologies are in that same place. It's ripe for investment for the U.S. to become leaders in that market."
If the prototype performs as hoped, OPT has plans to award OIW with a contract for the construction of nine additional buoys. Gibson said an order like that would create roughly 125-150 family wage jobs.
"I want the rest of the world to come to Vancouver, to Oregon Iron Works and ask them to build these buoys," Denny said. "This is a real opportunity for Southwest Washington to get out in front of the rest of the world when it comes to ocean energy technology, not to mention the benefits to our environment, energy savings and, most importantly, the creation of family-wage jobs."