‘Ab­sorber’ To Cap­ture Wave En­ergy At MCBH

MidWeek Islander (Windward Oahu) - - Windward Oahu Islander -

The Azura has ar­rived! I par­tic­i­pated in a bless­ing Feb. 18 for the North­west En­ergy In­no­va­tions ( NWEI) Azura Wave En­ergy De­vice, which soon will be de­ployed at the U. S. Navy’s Wave En­ergy Test Site (WETS) on Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

Azura is a “point ab­sorber” type of wave de­vice. It has a float­ing buoy in­side a fixed cylin­der, and the mo­tion of the waves drives the en­ergy con­vert­ers. Be­cause it can ro­tate con­tin­u­ously and os­cil­late, it pro­duces en­ergy from both kinds of move­ment. This is a dif­fer­ent de­sign from the first wave-en­ergy buoy that was tested suc­cess­fully 2009-2011 at the base.

Walk­ing along our Wind­ward beaches, I never cease to be amazed by the un­bri­dled power of our tides and waves. As most of you know, I have long been an en­thu­si­as­tic sup­porter of en­ergy pro- duced by our oceans, and I’m thrilled that the next chap­ter for wave en­ergy is now open­ing up in Hawaii.

The test site came about via a com­pet­i­tive fund­ing award from U. S. Depart­ment of En­ergy, which builds on NWEI’s pre­vi­ous $ 1.8 mil­lion award from the DOE’s Wind and Wa­ter Power Pro­gram. Ac­cord­ing to NWEI, this will be the fourth ocean site where the Azura de­vice has been tested.

It takes only 7.7 ter­awatt hours ( TWh) per year to power Oahu, the DOE stated, yet Hawaii’s de­pend­able wave en­ergy re­source is an im­pres­sive 130 TWh per year. Our nat­u­ral re­sources of sun, wind and waves make

Azura is a ‘point ab­sorber’ type of wave de­vice. It has a float­ing buoy in­side a fixed cylin­der, and the mo­tion of the waves drives

con­vert­ers.” the en­ergy

Hawaii ripe for self-sus­tain­abil­ity.

Un­for­tu­nately, the chal­lenge is in trans­mit­ting this en­ergy over an aging grid. I’ve in­tro­duced sev­eral bills to ad­dress this, such as mi­cro grids, as well as to re­quire HECO to hook up in­de­pen­dent en­ergy pro­duc­ers to the grid in a timely man­ner, such as homes with rooftop so­lar. We also need to make sure our in­fra­struc­ture is up­dated to han­dle in­creased en­ergy gen­er­a­tion. I will con­tinue to work for the pro­duc­tion of safe, clean en­ergy and for trans­mis­sion op­tions.

Bat­tery stor­age is an­other re­al­ity that could free us from grid de­pen­dence and bring us bet­ter con­trol over our own en­ergy pro­duc­tion. New tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion are chang­ing the face of our en­ergy fu­ture, and we need to be ready to grab hold of it. The power of the ocean is a ready re­source which can free Hawaii from fos­sil fuel de­pen­dence, and I ap­plaud our mil­i­tary for mov­ing ahead on vi­able en­ergy al­ter­na­tives.

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