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US Navy Invests $6M to Continue UH Wave Energy Conversion Research

US Navy Wave Energy Converter The Fred.jpg
Pat Cross
University of Hawaii
The Fred. Olsen Lifesaver wave energy converter (WEC) deployed at the Navy's Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) off Kaneohe during 2018/2019.

The U.S. Navy is investing $6 million to continue, and expand, wave energy research at the University of Hawaiʻi.

UH Manoa's Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute has been helping the Navy and U.S. Department of Energy research the viability of converting wave energy into electricity off Oʻahu's windward coast.

It is the only test site in the U.S. connected to an electrical grid.

Pat Cross, the project's senior specialist, says the Navy's investment will help UH continue its efforts on wave energy conversion, but also help expand their research.

"Specifically focused on offshore, non-grid connected applications of wave energy. And that's become a growth area of wave energy," Cross said.

"More and more people are focusing on applications offshore that are not connected to a power grid."

Cross says there is interest in having sustainable energy creation for operations that spend most of their time on the ocean — such as being able to support aquaculture operations, and disaster response.

Despite decades of research, converting wave energy into electricity is still in the research and development phase. Cross says this is due to the harsh and corrosive ocean environment on technology.

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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