(EnviroNews World News) — Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii — The first-ever grid-connected wave energy converter (WEC) system in the United States was brought online during the first week of June, 2015 at the U.S. Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay on Oahu.
The prototype system, called Azura was developed by Northwest Energy Innovations (NWEI), and was brought online in partnership with the Navy and the Department of Energy (DOE). In a press release from June 9, 2015, NWEI also gave credit to Callaghan Innovation, and Energy Hydraulics Ltd (EHL) as vital partners in the project, and to Sea Engineering for its assistance in deploying the prototype.
The Azura system is said to be unique because it is multidirectional and harnesses power from various motions in the oceans. “Northwest Energy Innovations designed the Azura WEC in a unique way to extract power not just from the bobbing, or ‘heave’ motions—in MHK lingo—of the waves, but from back-and-forth ‘surge’ motions, as well,” reports ClickGreen, a UK-based online publication.
The effort and recent deployment of the prototype on Oahu represents the first time that a large-scale wave energy system has been tested on a grid in the United States. According to the NWEI release, the test at WETS is scheduled to last for 12 months.
The prototype will also be receiving testing and possibly validation by a third party — the University of Hawaii. This represents “a major milestone for the emerging American marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) energy industry,” says GreenClick.
A similar Azura pilot prototype had been tested in 2012 by NWEI at Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center’s test site off the coast of Oregon. That project was also supported by DOE.
The press release put out by NWEI on June 9, is just below: