Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP) is a planning processes aimed at prioritizing and allocating current and future use of ocean space to improve the management and use of marine resources. In states that have completed or are engaged in CMSP, an initial step in the process involves coordinating among stakeholders to achieve a spatial and temporal understanding of ocean activities. Subsequent steps involve setting priorities, allocating space to compatible activities, and outlining a process for managing and granting permission to conduct activities. Contrary to the conception that the ocean is a vast frontier, little of the marine environment is “unused.” Activities include shipping and transportation, fishing, recreation, scientific research, oil and gas exploration, and marine conservation. In the United States, ocean renewable energy is a new and important addition to the national energy portfolio, mandated by the President’s “all of the above” energy strategy and joins a crowded seascape of existing uses. Siting of marine renewable energy must be purposefully incorporated in marine spatial planning to give fair consideration to the full suite of ocean activities with respect to stated local, regional, and national priorities.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, (BOEM), an agency of the US Department of the Interior, manages the exploration and development of the nation’s offshore resources, including development of renewable energy in federal waters. BOEM is charged with the management and planning of renewable energy development on the US Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). As part of its CMSP process, BOEM identified a need for a series of mapping products to inform the development of renewable energy on the OCS off the coast of the state of Oregon. BOEM contracted with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) through an Interagency Agreement with the US Department of Energy to compile existing information on offshore wind and wave energy device types, to conduct interviews and surveys with device and potential domestic project developers, and to gather experiences from international developments. These inputs were used to inform existing device suitability parameters (Van Cleve et al. 2013) adapted for the purposes of this project and to develop and map spatially explicit device suitability areas. These areas represent a broad set of developer and technology perspectives and a range of device suitability.
The five primary objectives of this study are as follows:
- Identify and document areas preferred by industry for potential wind and wave renewable energy development in the Oregon OCS.
- Produce maps of the OCS with areas of potential development suitability based on a technical feasibility analysis.
- Rank areas of potential development from low to high in order to provide input on the BOEM planning process and base the outcomes on scenarios, varying either technology types, economic feasibility, or intensity of development.
- Develop a series of specifications based on each technology type’s design requirements.
- Acquire renewable energy device specifications to expand on previous similar studies carried out in the Oregon territorial sea, Washington State, and northern California, to the extent necessary, by consulting with individual developers, developer surveys, or by using larger facilitated workshops to bring developers together.
This study uses a multi-criteria decision analysis framework of weighted additive algorithms to evaluate site suitability. Attributes of suitability used in this analysis represent fundamental economic and technical feasibility considerations and include energy potential, water depth, proximity to shore, ports, and transmission infrastructure. Socioeconomic, legal, regulatory, national security, and environmental factors—key factors to consider when planning for renewable energy development—are beyond the scope of this study. The separation of fundamental suitability factors from other considerations influencing marine spatial planning is deliberate and intended to respect Oregon and BOEM’s stakeholder-informed planning process. This study builds on methodology developed to assess site suitability for renewable energies off the Oregon and Washington coasts (OWET 2010 and Van Cleve et al. 2013). Because technical and economic factors affecting suitability are subject to change as offshore wind and wave technology and grid and port infrastructure are developed, the focus of this study was constrained to 5−10 years into the future.