A prototype wave energy device, called Azura, has advanced successfully from initial concept to grid-connected, open-sea pilot testing. Azura was recently launched and installed in a 30-meter test berth at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) in Kaneohe Bay, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. This pilot testing is giving US researchers the opportunity to monitor and evaluate the long-term performance of the nation’s first grid-connected wave energy converter (WEC) device to be independently tested by a third party—the University of Hawaii—in the open ocean.
The first phase of Azura’s development involved testing a smaller prototype in a wave tank and later deploying a prototype – at the same scale as the new deployment – in a controlled, open-sea area off the coast of Oregon in 2014. Those tests helped Azura’s developer, Northwest Energy Innovations (NWEI) of Portland, Oregon, verify the functionality of the device while collecting comprehensive performance data that could lower the cost of wave energy technologies in the future.
To further advance Azura toward commercialization, NWEI recently launched its grid-connected 20 kW demonstration project at WETS. The current phase of in-water testing at the WETS’s 30-meter test berth has already proven valuable in gathering performance and reliability data from the device in deepwater, open-ocean conditions. The data will be used to further optimize Azura’s performance and refine existing wave energy computer simulations, ultimately supporting commercialization of this technology.