Ocean-energy device launches, better positions Hawai‘i to harness wave power

wave energy deviceHawai‘i moved closer to gaining independence from fossil fuels, exerting control over its energy production and fulfilling the state’s Clean Energy Initiative with the latest deployment of a high-tech ocean-renewable energy device that converts waves into energy off Kaneohe’s shoreline this week.

The launch of the Fred Olsen Lifesaver energy converter by the US Navy at Marine Corps Base Hawaii marks significant progress in using the ocean’s wave power as a sustainable energy source. Testing of wave-energy converters began at the base in 2009; based on years-long test results, improvements in the system and design have led to major advances. The state’s Clean Energy Initiative aims to relieve Hawaii’s dependence on oil by achieving 100 percent clean energy by 2045.

The Lifesaver is one of the only wave energy converters that has sustained long-term testing in the water, making it a one-of-a-kind device. It is regarded as the most highly developed wave energy device in the world and it was developed in Norway. The Navy’s test location is known as WETS or Wave Energy Test Site.

Continuing her strong support of ocean-produced energy, Representative Cynthia Thielen introduced several bills this year. They included proposed legislation relating to solar-energy sustainability that extends income tax credit to cover the installation of battery backup systems, and a property-assessed clean-energy program to promote renewable energy systems and efficiency improvements. In previous years, her bills addressed transmission options such as micro grids and required Hawaiian Electric Company to ramp up efforts such as supplying residents with rooftop solar more quickly.

“I will continue my vigilance and steadfastness in promoting the production of safe clean energy, our freedom from fossil-fuel dependence, and ways to make energy affordable and practical for Hawai‘i residents,” Thielen said. “Our military is making great strides on viable energy alternatives and I applaud them.”