Navy Connects Buoy to Power Grid at Hawaii Marine Corps Base

Story Number: NNS100927-12Release Date: 9/27/2010 5:26:00 PM
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By Virginia Bueno, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Public Affairs

KANEOHE, Hawaii (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy announced Sept. 27 that it has connected a small wave energy generating buoy to a power grid on Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay in Oahu, Hawaii, that is drawing electrical power from the ocean's waves.

This historic test marks the first demonstration of grid-connected wave power in the United States, said William Tayler, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Headquarters in Washington, D.C., which is overseeing the project.

The PB40 PowerBuoy, built by Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) of Pennington, N.J., is located approximately three-quarters of a mile off the coast in 100 feet of water. The buoy is approximately 55 feet long with a diameter of five feet except at the surface where it is 12 feet in diameter. In the current wave climate at the Marine Corps base site, the power generation of this test buoy is estimated at 3 to 4 kilowatts.

"This project demonstrates the Navy and Marine Corps' commitment to lead the country toward a new energy future. Of the five energy targets I issued in 2009, the most important is that by 2020, half of all the energy we use - ashore and afloat, in the air, on the sea, under the sea and on land - will come from alternative sources," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

"In order to end our reliance on fossil fuels, we must continue to invest in projects such as ocean energy. In doing so, we will improve our energy security, increase our energy independence, and help build a new clean energy economy," said Mabus.

Backed by Congressional funding, the Navy has been evaluating the feasibility of wave energy technology since 2001. This is the third buoy that has been tested for the Navy by OPT at the Kaneohe site.

"Our goal is for Marine Corps Base Hawaii to be completely energy self sustaining by 2015," said Marine Corps Base Hawaii Commanding Officer Col. Robert Rice. "The energy potential gained from having the wave buoys will ultimately help us reach our goal. Furthermore, we are pleased to be the test site for wave energy here in Hawaii as the Department of Defense moves towards using sustainable and renewable resources."

Because of the number of coastal installations with ocean energy potential, such as Kaneohe's Marine Corps Base, the Navy supports development and commercialization of tidal and ocean thermal technology, in addition to wave energy. Ocean energy commercialization depends not only on continued funding for development, but also on availability of offshore test sites. The Navy plans to expand the site to evaluate technical and economic feasibility of commercial scale wave energy systems from multiple suppliers, with power generation capacity up to one megawatt or higher. This expanded test site will provide developers an opportunity to test full-scale systems in an ocean environment.

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