The first third-party-validated, grid-tied wave energy device in North American waters started feeding renewable electricity to Marine Corps Base Hawaii last week. In coordination with the U.S. Navy, Northwest Energy Innovations and the Energy Department brought online a prototype of the Azura wave energy converter (WEC) device. This one-of-a-kind, wave energy device is designed to generate electricity from the motion of the choppy waters at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay on Oahu. The Azura is now the first grid-connected wave energy device producing power in North America to be validated by a third party—the University of Hawaii—a major milestone for the emerging American marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) energy industry.
Designers of this first-generation prototype WEC device aimed to maximize energy capture while building it to withstand the challenging ocean environment. Northwest Energy Innovations designed the Azura WEC in a unique way to extract power not just from the bobbing, or “heave” motions—in MHK lingo—of the waves, but from back-and-forth “surge” motions, as well. Further testing at the Navy’s WETS, the nation’s only grid-connected open-water test site, will gather critical performance data to address technical risks and inform future designs to accelerate thecommercialization and deployment of MHK technologies in the United States.
If successful, the advancements made possible by this major demonstration project will further America’s progress in proving wave energy as a viable source for our nation’s clean energy future. MHK technologies that convert the energy of waves, tides, rivers, and ocean currents into clean, renewable electricity can be used by homes and businesses throughout the country—and especially near coastlines where 50% of America’s population lives. With abundant undeveloped resources across the United States, MHK technologies hold promise to help meet America’s renewable energy needs.
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