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Green Energy from the Blue Ocean

by Kathy Chambers on Tue, December 13, 2016

Blue Ocean
Image Credit: DOE Water Power Program

Movements of waves, tides, and currents in the ocean carry kinetic energy that can be harnessed and converted to electricity.  There is vast potential for using this ocean resource to provide clean, renewable energy to communities and cities in coastal areas, and it could impact the nearly half of the U.S. population that lives within 50 miles of the coastlines. 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Program supports the design, development, testing, and demonstration of marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) technologies that can capture energy from waves, tides, and currents.  This program also funds the creation of instrumentation, modeling, and simulation tools to enable real-condition testing of technologies.  DOE recently announced $20 million in funding for projects that advance and monitor marine and hydrokinetic energy systems and will contribute to the development of a commercially viable MHK industry.

The Water Power Program also sponsored the $2.25 million, 20-month Wave Energy Prize challenge.  This public contest was designed to encourage the development of more efficient wave energy converter (WEC) devices that would double the energy absorption base line captured from ocean waves, making wave energy more competitive with traditional energy solutions. 

The Wave Energy Prize initially had 92 teams, which were narrowed down to 9 finalists, from industry and academia who designed, built, and tested their MHK inventions with seed funding.  On November 16, 2016, DOE announced the winners.  AquaHarmonics, a two-member team that worked out of their garage in Portland, OR, won the $1.5 million dollar first-place prize.  AquaHarmonics’s Alex Hagmuller and Max Ginsburg managed to quintuple the energy absorption base line with their WEC, a point absorber device consisting of a latching/de-clutching control; more information about their remarkable journey and technology is found in this @ENERGY post.  CalWave Power Technologies of Berkeley, CA, was awarded the second-place prize of $500,000, and Waveswing America of Sacramento, CA, was awarded the $250,000 third-place prize. 

Additional ocean energy information is provided in Dr. William Watson’s latest white paper, “In the OSTI Collections: Ocean Wave and Tidal Power.”  Related research information and additional resources are also provided in the DOE Science Showcase – Ocean Wave and Tidal Power.

Other Related Topics: Blue, energy, green, ocean, tides, waves
Page last updated on 2017-03-10 10:00

About the Author

Kathy Chambers's picture
Kathy Chambers
Technical Writer, Information International Associates, Inc.