With more than half of the American population living within 50 miles of the coastline, a cost-effective wave energy industry can provide a substantial amount of electricity for the nation, especially in geographically suited areas such as the West Coast. However, existing wave energy converter concepts are still in the early stages of technological development and are not yet cost competitive with other means of generating electricity. Because of this, there is an opportunity to significantly reduce the cost so wave power can effectively contribute to the nation’s energy supply and its energy independence.
What if in the next two years the wave energy industry achieved a technology leap so revolutionary that it would make the cost of wave energy competitive with traditional sources of energy? This could be the result of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wave Energy Prize.
DOE’s latest prize challenge will encourage the development of more efficient wave energy conversion (WEC) devices that capture more energy from ocean waves, which in turn have the potential to reduce the cost of wave energy, making wave energy competitive with other traditional energy solutions.
Ultimately, the winner(s) of the Wave Energy Prize, who will receive cash prizes totaling more than $1 million, will deliver a WEC device that is deemed capable of cutting in half the cost of producing electricity from ocean waves by the end of the 18 month competition.