The ability to harness wave energy to power onshore facilities is still years away, but local officials in Hawaii remain excited by the potential for the renewable resource to help the state reach its goal of obtaining all of its energy from renewables by 2045.
“If you want to get to 100 percent, we have to tap the ocean,” state Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R) said last week during a blessing ceremony for the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) at Kaneohe Bay located off Marine Corps Base Hawaii. “This is the most powerful renewable resource we have, and Hawaii is one of the best locations for it.”
The Navy and Marine Corps are using the site, located about two-and-a-half miles from shore, to test various wave energy conversion technologies that can connect to the grid.
“This site is all about testing prototypes and experimental devices to see what breaks, to fix it as we go and learn from that,” said Patrick Cross, program manager of ocean energy at the University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Natural Energy Institute. The institute is monitoring the environmental impacts of the devices and the technologies’ power performance.
Two companies already have attached their technology to one of WETS’ berths, and two more are expected to join the site in 2017, reported the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Oregon-based Northwest Energy Innovations launched its prototype, Azura, to connect to Oahu’s power grid in the summer of 2015. Norwegian-based Fred. Olsen Ltd. launched its own wave energy conversion device in 2015.
Charlottesville, Va.-based Columbia Power Technology and Irish-based Ocean Energy are planning to test prototypes in early 2017.
“This signifies a lot of efforts from many,” said Kail Macias, technical director at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center.