The wave energy device by Ocean Energy Ltd, funded by the Government of Ireland through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), has reached a major milestone as it embarks on a one-year testing cycle in Hawaii. The Cork-based company will be testing its 500kW wave energy converter at the U.S. Navy Wave Energy Test Site in the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. The project involves a significant collaboration between SEAI and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office (DOE) who have co-funded the $12 million project with Ocean Energy Ltd.
The floating structure, which is as tall as a three-storey building and over 35 metres in length, uses wave power to turn turbines and generate electricity. The OE Buoy has been in development for 15 years and this version will be capable of producing enough electricity to power 500 homes.
Commenting on the milestone, William Walsh, Chief Executive of SEAI said:
“This is the first time an Irish wave energy company has progressed to this scale. SEAI has supported Ocean Energy Ltd from small scale tank testing in Cork, to quarter scale testing in our Galway Bay test site, to this near full-scale device in Hawaii. Reaching Hawaii is a major achievement for offshore renewables. The team are trailblazers in this emerging sector and we are very excited to see the results of the next 12 months of testing.”
Daniel Simmons, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy remarked:
“The year-long test represents a fantastic opportunity to continue to demonstrate and validate new innovations that will dramatically lower costs for wave energy systems.”
Tim Ramsey, Manager of the Marine Energy R&D Program at the Energy Department also said:
“The international collaboration on this project has proved really beneficial. One challenge in the emerging ocean energy sector is pulling together all the diverse skillsets and necessary resources to carry out large and very technically complicated tests in harsh ocean environments. This project has benefitted significantly by leveraging innovation, engineering expertise and funding from both Ireland and the U.S.”
Success in Hawaii will allow Ocean Energy Ltd to be the first Irish company to develop commercial devices which can power homes, communities and businesses. Wave energy devices also have the benefit in that they can power more remote energy users such as offshore island communities or offshore fish-farms.
Concluding Walsh said:
“Ireland has one of the best offshore renewable energy resources in the world and a sea area ten times its landmass. Success in Hawaii would give us the ability to harness our ocean wealth to generate clean, renewable electricity. The development of this offshore renewable energy resource could be a significant component to overall energy policy in Ireland. Exploiting it will enable Ireland to develop an export market in green energy, deliver jobs to the economy, enhance security of energy supply and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”