Environment

Azura wave energy system deployed in Hawaii

Azura wave energy system deplo...
The Azura device in Kaneohe Bay
The Azura device in Kaneohe Bay
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The Azura device in Kaneohe Bay
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The Azura device in Kaneohe Bay

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.

Source: Northwest Energy Innovations via Popular Science

NWEI Animation

6 comments
DavidFMayerPhD
Wave power is small change. Why doesn't Hawaii deploy Sea Solar Power, which is larger and cheaper per unit power? See http://seasolarpower.com/
Trevor Wrn
Ben a wave energy project here in Western Australia operated by Carnegie Wave Technology has been running successfully for some time check out their site
Craig Jennings
Gawd that looks awkward! Glad to see it's getting a 12 month trial though :)
windykites
I wonder what is the projected and actual power production. I can only imagine it will take many years to pay off the development and production costs for such a relatively small output. I agree with David F Mayer. I can't see the point of making this gadget. Surely the power output could have been assessed on a computer simulation?
Catweazle
"Surely the power output could have been assessed on a computer simulation?" windykites1 What, like the "climate models"? Snigger!
StWils
WindyK, simulations are of course, essential tools but ALL simulations need a real world test to validate data. There is nothing like a year long test to see how well the system stands up to actual ocean action. I would prefer to see the test run much longer but at least a year is an OK start.