Wave energy – recently characterized by one leading academic in the field as being “in kindergarten” compared to fossil fuels – isn’t about to graduate to the big time, but the effort to build a meaningful industry in the U.S. could advance several grades in the next few years. Not one, not two, but at least three full-scale wave energy converters, all intended to produce significant grid power when deployed in arrays, are now in line to be tested in Hawaii.
Columbia Power Technologies told Breaking Energy that it had signed a $3 million contract with the U.S. Navy that will support deployment of the company’s StingRAY device offshore from Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneohe Bay. Just last week the U.S. Department of Energy said it had selected Northwest Energy Innovations and Ocean Energy to receive a total of $10 million to deploy devices at the same test site, on the windward side of Oahu.
The Wave Energy Test Site in Hawaii will feature two grid-connected berths, and it wasn’t clear when exactly the three devices that have landed spots would go in the water. Industry sources said, too, that there could actually be a fourth device bound for Hawaii, through another Navy contract, but that remained to be confirmed. For his part, Columbia Power CEO Reenst Lesemann said his company expected to begin its year-long Hawaii trial in the second half of 2016.