Will we have a winner? The Department of Energy will announce the results of the Wave Energy Prize during an Innovation Showcase to be held at Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division on Nov. 16. Although attendance at this event will be by invitation only, the public is invited to watch the announcement live beginning at 10 a.m. ET.
It has been a long road for our teams since registering for the Wave Energy Prize back in the spring of 2015. In 18 months, they have written technical submissions, test plans, and build plans; constructed 1/50th-scale models, completed small-scale testing, and numerically modeled their WEC’s performance; and finally, after building 1/20th-scale WEC prototypes, tested their devices at the Navy’s Maneuvering and Seakeeping (MASK) Basin in Carderock, Md. Nothing remains but to find out how many teams were able to meet or exceed the Prize’s goal of doubling the energy captured from ocean waves, and to ultimately announce whose technology met or exceeded the required ACE value and produced the highest HPQ.
The U.S. Department of Energy will announce the winner(s) during the Wave Energy Prize Innovation Showcase to be held at Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock on Nov. 16. Attendance at this event will be by invitation only.
For our teams, whether they are the winner of the $1.5 million grand prize or not, Nov. 16 is not the end, but rather a new beginning. In the months following the Prize, the teams will analyze the data obtained during testing at the MASK Basin to help bring their innovative technologies to the market.
Ever since registering more than a year ago for the Wave Energy Prize, our teams have eagerly anticipated the opportunity to test their 1/20th-scale WEC prototypes in the Navy’s Maneuvering and Seakeeping (MASK) Basin, at Carderock, Md. In a building with a footprint of more than five acres, what developer wouldn’t be giddy with excitement to test a new technology in the nation’s premier wave-making facility containing more than 12 million gallons of fresh water?
The beginning of August marked the beginning of the final round testing, and some of our Finalist Teams have already completed their 1/20th scale model tests in the MASK Basin. Others are still awaiting their turn. M3 Wave was first in the tank, followed by Waveswing America, Harvest Wave Energy (Team FLAPPER), AquaHarmonics, CalWave Power Technologies, Oscilla Power and Sea Potential. RTI Wave Power is testing its prototype this week, and SEWEC is onsite building its device.
“Watching our Finalist Teams’ WEC concepts come to life at the MASK Basin has been a thrill,” said Alison LaBonte, Marine and Hydrokinetic Technology Program Manager in DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office. “We’re looking forward to the Judges’ analyses of the nine weeks of testing and learning how many and which technologies surpassed our goal of doubling the energy capture efficiency of wave energy converters.”
As we near the Test and Evaluation Phase of the competition starting this August, our Finalists share their thoughts about participating in the Wave Energy Prize “in their own words” to date.
Here are two videos posted earlier this week with advice for opposing teams (by Paul Brewster of Sea Potential, Mike Morrow from M3 Wave and Marcus Lehmann from CalWave) and notes on device evolution (by Stewart Bible of Harvest Wave Energy), respectively.
Advice for Opposing Teams
All videos, recorded during Waterpower Week 2016 in Washington, D.C., can be found archived on the Wave Energy Prize website, as well as the official YouTube channel for the U.S. Department of Energy.
The Wave Energy Prize announced today that the nine finalist teams identified on March 1 will all proceed through Technology Gate 3 to test their 1/20th scale wave energy converter prototypes at the Navy’s Maneuvering and Seakeeping Basin beginning next month. Many thanks to our Wave Energy Prize alternates who continued work on their technologies since March, and we wish the best of luck to the Finalist Teams as they put the finishing touches on their prototypes before shipping them to Carderock!
By Alison LaBonte, Ph.D.
Program Manager, Marine and Hydrokinetic Technologies, Wind and Water Technologies Office, U.S. Department of Energy
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) realized that revolutionary advancements in wave energy were needed for it to play a significant role in our clean energy portfolio, making wave energy a great candidate for a public prize competition. The Wave Energy Prize is not your average research and development program: compressed timelines spark rapid innovation, resulting in revolutionary technology development.
Before we opened registration for the Wave Energy Prize, our team set an aggressive goal to double the state-of-the-art energy captured per unit structural cost of wave energy converters (WECs). With this goal came a number of program objectives, which are to:
- mobilize new and existing talent,
- conduct a rigorous comparison between device types,
- advance the understanding of pathways to achieve long-term levelized cost of energy goals, and
- attract investors and create a strong foundation for future funding opportunities
So far, we’re achieving these ambitious objectives. A year ago, 92 teams registered for the Prize, three times more than we expected. Of these, 66 turned in technical submissions, which were evaluated by our panel of expert judges to identify 20 Qualified Teams. Most teams that registered were not previously known to DOE. Seventeen of the 20 Qualified Teams’ completed the initial small scale testing phase, and only two of the nine teams selected for the final phase of testing have received any funding from DOE in the past.
In April, I updated the MHK community gathered at Waterpower Week in Washington, D.C., on the progress of the Prize during a panel discussion on innovation. So far, most of the teams have met the aggressive timelines for the Prize, which puts DOE in a great position to achieve the remaining objectives. To meet the requirements for Technology Gate 2, the Qualified Teams built 1/50th-scale model devices, tested them at university facilities around the country, and conducted significant numerical modeling studies in just four months.
The nine Finalist and two Alternate Teams have put forward diverse WEC designs, which include two submerged areal absorbers; four point absorbers; two attenuators; and three terminators. And in these designs, we’re already seeing technical innovations in the areas of geometry, materials, power conversion and controls. Some of these include:
- adaptive sea state-to-sea state control,
- wave-to-wave control,
- power absorption in multiple degrees of freedom,
- optimized float shapes and dimensions for energy absorption for broad bandwidth of wave frequencies,
- survival strategies such as submerging beneath the surface for extreme storms,
- use of structures and materials that are cost effective to manufacture, and
- flexible membranes that react to the wave pressure over a broad area.
Waterpower Week attendees saw some of these innovations firsthand when they met the Finalists and Alternate Teams during the Wave Energy Prize Showcase in which the 1/50th-scale models were on display.
Industry stakeholders are taking notice, and the public’s awareness of wave energy is increasing because of the teams’ efforts in the Prize. In just over a year, more than 100 news stories have featured the Prize, including in outlets like Popular Science, The Weather Channel and National Geographic. The Prize’s website has hosted more than 23,000 visitors, and its social media channels have logged more than a half million impressions. This increased awareness of the potential contribution of wave energy to the nation’s renewable energy mix will exist long after the Prize ends, and will likely set the stage for future private-sector investments and government funding opportunities.
It’s an exciting time to be in the wave energy community. The teams are putting the finishing touches on their 1/20th-scale prototypes, which will be rigorously tested at the U.S. Navy’s MASK Basin from August through early October. Follow our teams’ progress at waveenergyprize.org, and save the date for November 16, when winner(s), if any, will be announced!
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced Tuesday that nine teams have been named finalists in the Wave Energy Prize, a 20-month design-build-test competition, and will proceed to the next phase of the competition.
The nine finalists and two alternates, identified from the 17 remaining official qualified teams, will continue their quest to double the energy captured from ocean waves and win a prize purse totaling more than $2 million. Each of the finalists and alternates will now receive seed funding from DOE to develop 1/20th scale models of their wave energy converter (WEC). These models will be tested at the nation’s most advanced wave-making facility, the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Maneuvering and Seakeeping (MASK) Basin at Carderock, Md., beginning in the summer of 2016.
Official finalist teams are:
- AquaHarmonics (Portland, Ore.)
- CalWave (Berkeley, Calif.)
- M3 Wave (Salem, Ore.)
- Oscilla Power (Seattle, Wash.)
- RTI Wave Power (York, Maine)
- Sea Potential (Bristol, R.I.)
- SEWEC (Redwood City, Calif.)
- Wavefront Power (Team FLAPPER) (Research Triangle Park, N.C.)
- Waveswing America (Sacramento, Calif.)
Alternate teams are:
- McNatt Ocean Energy (Greensboro, Md.)
- Wave Energy Conversion Corporation of America (WECCA) (North Bethesda, Md.)
“The qualified teams’ efforts resulted in some very promising technologies for the judges to evaluate,” said Wes Scharmen, principal investigator at Ricardo, Inc. and chief judge of the Wave Energy Prize. “Based on our preliminary evaluation, the data indicates that many of the teams identified as finalists have the potential to achieve the ACE threshold, and thus the potential to exceed DOE’s program goal. We’re looking forward to further verifying their designs performance at 1/20th scale in the MASK Basin at Carderock this summer.”
ACE—a benefit-to-cost ratio—was selected by the Wave Energy Prize as a metric appropriate for comparing low Technology Readiness Level WEC concepts when there is not enough data to calculate the levelized cost of energy —itself a cost-to-benefit ratio—from a device. ACE is determined by dividing, in essence, the wave energy extraction efficiency of a WEC by its structural cost. Finalists were determined based on their potential to achieve the doubling of the current state-of-the-art ACE value of 1.5 meters per million dollars (m/$M) to 3 m/$M during 1/20th scale tank testing at the MASK Basin, making them eligible to win the grand prize.
A panel of expert judges evaluated each qualified team based on their revised technical submissions, numerical modeling results, Model Design and Construction Plans, and the results of small-scale tank testing of their 1/50th scale models, and determined aggregate scores to identify the finalist pool.
The Wave Energy Prize is encouraging the development of game-changing WECs that will reduce the cost of wave energy, making it more competitive with traditional energy solutions.
Congratulations to the finalist teams, and thanks to all who have participated in theWave Energy Prize to date!