Azura wave energy system deployed in Hawaii

The Azura device in Kaneohe Bay(Credit: Northwest Energy Innovations)

Although wave energy-harvesting systems are often just presented as concepts that may someday see actual use, one was recently deployed in Hawaii to provide power to the municipal grid. Built by Northwest Energy Innovations, the Azura device will remain in operation for a 12-month assessment period, with an eye toward eventual commercialization.

Located at the US Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site near Kaneohe Bay on the north shore of Oahu, the 45-ton (41-tonne) device is unique in that its 360-degree rotating float mechanism is able to extract power from both vertical and horizontal wave motions. By contrast, some other systems can only utilize up-and-down or back-and-forth movements.

The pilot project is being conducted with the support of the US Department of Energy, the US Navy, and the University of Hawaii. The university will be in charge of data collection and analysis, while the other two groups will use that data in their "ongoing efforts to validate wave energy technology and advance the marine renewable energy industry."

Hawaii may also end up being home to a commercial-scale Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plant, which generates electricity by exploiting the temperature difference between warm surface water and colder deep water.

The following video provides a brief explanation of how the Azura works.

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