Hawaii’s Grid Is Now Power Surfing with Azura

Daniel Stewart for Zondits, July 14, 2015. Image credit: Thomas Hawk

Momentum has continued to build in the US marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) energy field. MHK devices are generally split into two categories: wave energy converters (WECs) that harness ocean swell energy to make power and tidal devices that do the same using ocean currents. In April, the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced $10,500,000 in funding for next-generation MHK devices. Northwest Energy Innovations (NWEI), an MHK developer based in Portland, Oregon, that has benefitted from previous rounds of DOE funding, has advanced their WEC device over 5 years from conception to the first grid-connected MHK device in use in the United States. In June NWEI installed a half-scale model of their device in a 30-meter-deep test bed off the coast of Hawaii. The device can deliver up to 20 kW of power to Hawaii’s electric grid. Following the grid-connected pilot, NWEI has plans to install a full-scale device that can produce between 500 kW and 1 MW.

Photo courtesy of Northwest Energy Innovations.

Wave Power Device Starts Producing Power in Hawaii

Energy Manager Today, July 10, 2015

A prototype wave energy device, called Azura, has advanced successfully from initial concept to grid-connected, open-sea pilot testing. Azura was recently launched and installed in a 30-meter test berth at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. This pilot testing is giving US researchers the opportunity to monitor and evaluate the long-term performance of the nation’s first grid-connected wave energy converter (WEC) device to be independently tested by a third party—the University of Hawaii—in the open ocean.

The first phase of Azura’s development involved testing a smaller prototype in a wave tank and later deploying a prototype – at the same scale as the new deployment – in a controlled, open-sea area off the coast of Oregon in 2014. Those tests helped Azura’s developer, Northwest Energy Innovations (NWEI) of Portland, Oregon, verify the functionality of the device while collecting comprehensive performance data that could lower the cost of wave energy technologies in the future.

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