July 19, 2016

House Approves Bipartisan Amendment to Advance Wave and Water Technologies under the Energy and Water Appropriations Act

By: Vartan Badalian, Cleantech Law Partners

The United States is in the middle of a transition period away from nonrenewable sources of energy. In order to secure a strong renewable energy economy, a wide diversity of energy sources is a must. One source that has come into recent media attention within the clean energy marketplace is hydropower – specifically, wave energy.

Wave energy is clean energy. It’s sustainable and lucrative and provides a way to produce mass amounts of energy when the technology interacts with ocean waves. The energy that it can yield depends on wave height, speed, length and density. While solar and wind energy have become the mainstream clean energy go-to, thus dropping in price, less can be said about wave energy. However, unlike solar or wind energy, which can potentially become stagnate at certain times throughout the day, wave energy is constant. Ocean waves seemingly never come to a halt. This is what makes it a very interesting sector to increase investments in, and what the recent bipartisan amendment hopes to illustrate.

Recently, on May 25, 2016, the House approved a bipartisan amendment run by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici of the First District of Oregon, to enhance and increase funding for water and wave based energy generation practices. This amendment is set to take effect in the 2017 fiscal year, and it will attempt to provide an uplift to the Energy and Water Appropriations Act.

House amendment 169- 144th is aimed at increasing the funding to the Department of Energy’s water program. The amendment indicates that Congress is set to increase funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy, mainly wave and water based energy, by $9 million while simultaneously reducing funding for Departmental Administration by $9 million dollars. While $9 million increase may seem like a small amount for large scale energy investments, the yield on the return is much greater. The amendment is said to improve research and development of various hydropower generation methods, along with marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies.

In her talk on the House floor, Congresswoman Bonamici stated, “Hydropower is the Nation’s most available, reliable, and affordable, and sustainable energy source.” She went on to say, “This is one that is clean. This is one that is in every community This is one that we know. This is one that doesn’t create too much noise for people, and it doesn’t hurt the fish, so it’s hard to argue against it.”

United States Energy Information Administration states that hydropower accounts for 6% of the total U.S. electricity generation and 48% of generation from renewables. Hydropower, and wave energy are a crucial component to meeting U.S. clean energy demands. While this one amendment may not instigate large scale change in the clean energy sector, it does create strong precedent. Amendments such as this will allow for greater diversity in the U.S. clean energy market. Hopefully, further advancements in both the political world as well as the private world offer greater opportunity for this vital and lucrative source of energy to advance.

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