HONOLULU (AP) — Oahu could become the first place in the United States to connect the energy harvested from ocean waves to a power grid.
Northwest Energy Innovations, a private company, will start testing a prototype in September.
During peak wave conditions, the device could generate up to 20 kilowatts from the wave energy, which is enough to power several homes.
“It’s a relatively small … but important step” in the nascent wave energy industry, said Patrick Cross, senior project specialist at UH-Manoa’s Hawaii Natural Energy Institute.
If tests go well, the company hopes to test larger, more cost-effective models in deeper waters.
Officials at the University of Hawaii say the Navy provided $9 million in support. Using that funding, up to four other companies could begin testing at the site in Kaneohe Bay.
The 50-foot-long device aims to harness power of waves far enough offshore that they don’t break.
The push to use ocean waves as renewable energy is about 30 years behind the wind power industry, said Steve Kopf, founder and senior partner with Northwest Energy Innovations.
Scientists believe they can get to the point where wave energy is competitive with other renewable-energy sources, Kopf said.
“Nobody’s quite there yet on wave, but we’re chipping away at it,” he said.
Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com