Although wave-generated power could meet a quarter of America’s energy needs, the technology lags other renewables such as wind and solar. But the United States (US) Navy has established a test site in Hawaii, where power from floating devices travels a mile through undersea cables to Oahu’s power grid – the first wave-induced electricity online in the US.
The two buoys deployed in Hawaii are visible from Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay. These buoys convert wave movement to electricity.
The US government and military have put about $334 million into wave energy research over the last decade, while Europe invested more than $1 billion, according to the Marine Energy Council, a trade association. Congress is working on a bill that would provide additional wave research funding. Industry experts say wave energy could be commercially viable in the US in the next five to ten years.
Two more companies are planning to test devices over the next two years. Each will be able to produce about 500 kilowatts of energy, which could potentially power hundreds of homes.