The United States Department of Energy (DOE) just announced $10 million in funding to test two deep-water wave energy conversion (WEC) devices off the coast of the U.S. Navy’s Marine Corps Hawaii Base in Kaneohe Bay. According to the DOE, the demonstrations at the Navy’s wave energy test site “will help develop reliable wave energy options and collect important performance and cost data for wave energy WEC devices.”
The WEC devices will be tested at 60 to 80 meters underwater – a key target depth for bigger, commercially viable wave power technology. The Navy has been testing a smaller energy buoy at a shallower depth of 30 meters for about ten years, and it hopes that bigger, better WEC devices will bring it closer to its goal of getting off the grid and achieving net zero energy. The Navy is also pursuing energy efficiency goals, electric vehicle integration, and other renewable sources of energy like solar power.
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The first phase of funding will focus on developing the WEC device’s design, and the second phase will focus on securing environmental permitting and deploying and testing the technology at close to full-scale in the ocean environment. The testing and data collection phase will last for one year.
Wave power has lagged behind solar and wind, which have seen tremendous growth as commercially viable renewable energy sources. With this financial commitment, the U.S. aims to accelerate the development of wave energy to make it cost competitive with wind, solar and other sources of clean energy. The DOE estimates that wave power has the potential to generate 1,170 terawatt-hours per year — enough clean, reliable electricity to power more than a quarter of the country.
Images via Aquamarine Power