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Strategic Impact Award (team)
Marine Renewables Outreach and Engagement Team
Kaety Hildenbrand, Flaxen Conway and Bob Eder – Oregon Sea Grant
OSU researchers began working on technology to harness the energy from ocean waves in the early 2000s, which quickly spurred interest from commercial wave energy companies. But Oregon’s commercial fishermen were prepared for a public battle over the use of ocean waters.
In stepped Oregon Sea Grant agents Flaxen Conway and Kaety Hildenbrand and commercial crabber Bob Eder. This trio spearheaded the process of educating the public, forming invaluable partnerships in the fishing community, and soliciting research funds – all of which enabled the pursuit of a marine renewable energy.
One of Flaxen’s research projects showed that the public was supportive of testing and research related to wave energy but not commercial development. This research later proved helpful when OSU received funding from the United States Department of Energy to create the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center.
This past August, the first wave energy device was tested near Newport and several more tests are scheduled for summer 2013.
Flaxen, Bob and Kaety have raised the bar for public processes around marine renewable energy in the state, nation and beyond. The future success of wave energy in Oregon will be due, in part, to their pioneering efforts to bring all parties together around this important issue.