Azura off Oregon Coast

Work at the Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) located off Marine Corps Base Hawaiʻi at Kāneʻohe has received an infusion of $9 million from the U.S. Navy. The funds, from the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, are directed to the Applied Research Laboratory at the University of Hawaiʻi (ARL/UH), working with UH Mānoa’s Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), to support industry testing of wave energy conversion devices. The Kāneʻohe site will be the first wave energy test site in the United States connected to an active power grid.

The ARL/UH has begun building a strong strategic partnership with the Navy in renewable energy research. “The Navy has established several aggressive energy goals, one of which is to produce 50 percent of its shore-based energy from renewable sources by 2020.” said retired Vice Administrator and ARL/UH Executive Director Michael Vitale. “In Hawaiʻi, our diverse renewable energy resources, large defense presence, and current grid challenges offer a tremendous opportunity to apply UH’s unique research capabilities and experience to help the Navy solve their energy challenges. Wave energy is but one of a growing list of opportunities for future energy research.”

The wave energy resource is abundant in many parts of the country including Hawaiʻi, Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, California and Northeast, but there is a large gap between the potential of waves to substantially contribute to the nation’s energy needs and the reality today. Testing at Kāneʻohe WETS is intended to reduce this gap by providing developers a cost effective way to test and validate their designs, with the ultimate goal of reducing costs and improving performance.

HNEI is excited to be working with the Applied Research Laboratory and the Navy in providing this critical support for wave energy testing, improvement and ultimate deployment of wave energy production at Navy bases in the U.S. and around the world” said HNEI Director Richard Rocheleau.

Read the UH Mānoa news release for the full story.

—By Talia Ogliore