The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the nine teams chosen as finalists in the Wave Energy Prize, which hail from California, Maine, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington. The Prize is a 20-month design-build-test competition that aims to double the energy captured from ocean waves. Increasing the energy harnessed by wave energy converter devices will reduce costs and make this renewable energy source more competitive with traditional energy solutions.
Waves provide a continual source of energy whether it’s sunny or cloudy, windy or calm. Recent studies found that America’s technically recoverable wave energy resource is estimated to range between 898-1,229 terawatt hours (TWh) per year, distributed across the coast of Alaska, the West Coast, the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. For context, approximately 90,000 homes can be powered by 1 TWh per year. This means that even if only 5 percent of the potential is recovered, millions of homes could be powered by wave energy as the technology progresses.
Of the 92 teams that qualified to compete in the competition, 20 teams advanced to the second technology gate. In this round, teams designed and built 1/50th scale models of their next-generation wave energy devices, which were rigorously tested and evaluated at five small-scale, wave-generating tanks across the United States. Finalists were selected based on their results and potential to achieve the Wave Energy Prize goals.
The nine finalist teams are (listed alphabetically):
- AquaHarmonics of Portland, Oregon
- CalWave of Berkeley, California
- M3 Wave of Salem, Oregon
- Oscilla Power of Seattle, Washington
- RTI Wave Power of York, Maine
- Sea Potential of Bristol, Rhode Island
- SEWEC of Redwood City, California
- Wavefront Power (Team FLAPPER) of Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
- Waveswing America of Sacramento, California
Two alternate teams were also selected (listed alphabetically):
- McNatt Ocean Energy of Annapolis, Maryland
- Wave Energy Conversion Corporation of America of North Bethesda, Maryland
Each of the finalists and alternates will now receive seed funding from DOE to develop a larger, 1/20th-scale model of their wave energy devices. The final round of testing will take place this summer at the nation’s most advanced wave-making facility—the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Maneuvering and Seakeeping Basin—located at Carderock, Maryland.
In the spring of 2015, an astonishing 92 teams registered for the Wave Energy Prize, 66 of which provided technical submissions that were judged over the summer. In August, DOE announced the selection of 20 teams that would continue as official qualified teams. During the fall and winter, these teams designed and built their 1/50th scale models, which were evaluated, through small-scale testing and on a number of other criteria, for their potential to achieve the program’s goal.