Wave power off the Sonoma County coast is a potentially carbon-free source of electricity, but it faces big questions about environmental impacts and economic viability.
You can read more about the project on the Water Agency's website.The image at right shows one prototype of a low-profile generator which could be deployed in an array of dozens of individual units, as illustrated below, to power a sizable area.
The Sonoma County Water Agency's first informational meeting about the wave power studies was held in Gualala on September 9th. Most of the people there, reports Richard Charter, knew nothing about the project before that meeting.
Two other study projects on the Northern California coast have received permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), both issued before the Sonoma County Water Agency's application was approved. Cordell Stillman (left with Water Agency boss Randy Poole) says both sites were sought by PG&E, but other than that, they are quite different in status and approach.
While the entire concept of wave-generated electricity is in its very earliest stages, Richard Charter (left) observes that it holds some benefits from an environmental perspective, but it is hardly a clear or easy solution to meeting future power needs.