U.S. to Spend $40 Million for an Open-Water Wave Energy Test Site

Wave Energy DOE
Image courtesy of U.S. DOE.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced up to $40 million in available funding, subject to congressional appropriations, to support the site selection, design, permitting, and construction of a national open-water, testing facility within U.S. federal or state waters. The Department anticipates the facility will contain at least three test berths to simultaneously and independently test devices. The testing facility will gather critical performance data to address technical risks, lower costs, and inform future designs to accelerate the commercialization and deployment of wave energy technologies in the United States.

If successful, the advancements made possible by this work will further America’s progress in proving wave energy as a viable source for our nation’s clean energy future. 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 approximately 900–1,230 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% of the potential is recovered, millions of homes could be powered by wave energy as the technology progresses.

As part of its marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) technology research and development efforts, the Energy Department is working to harness this largely untapped renewable energy resource that could provide clean, affordable energy to homes and businesses across the country’s coastal regions. The one project selected for funding will construct an open-water, grid-connected, fully energetic domestic wave test facility to support the full-scale testing of wave energy devices, addressing the challenges that the ocean environment poses for wave energy systems, which must operate in often harsh and unpredictable conditions for years. Energy Department investments in facilities aim to advance the technical readiness of systems and support the development of a robust and competitive industry in the United States.

Read the full funding opportunity announcement on the Energy Department’s Funding Opportunity Exchange website.

MHK technologies, which generate power from waves, tides, or currents, are at an early but promising stage of development. Many coastal areas in the United States have strong wave and tidal resources, and more than 50% of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coastline, making transmission from these resources more economical. With further progress toward commercialization, MHK technologies hold promise to help meet America’s renewable energy needs. To accelerate commercialization of wave energy devices, the Energy Department funds research and development—from laboratory and field-testing of individual components, up to demonstration and deployment of complete utility-scale systems.

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