CalWave’s 10 Month Wave Energy Test Successful
Subsea wave and tidal energy generation have long been plagued by extreme conditions and forces driving costs up and hurting ROI. The latest from CalWave shows that it’s possible to make a commercially viable solution.
Until now, wave energy devices have not been able to make it to the commercial market, but CalWave’s xWave clean power technology recently achieved success off the coast of San Diego and is now awaiting a permanent deployment. This marks the first time an at-sea, long-duration wave energy pilot has been completed and will inform the company’s next grid-connected deployment.
CalWave has been working on its xWave clean power technology for years. Its patent-pending Wave Energy Converter (WEC) provides reliable, clean power to coastal communities. It can generate electricity from ocean waves and also provide freshwater and other environmental services. With its clean, environmentally friendly technology, xWave can help coastal communities reduce their dependence on diesel generators.
CalWave’s xWave is a buoyant, boxy platform that is submerged in the ocean and anchored to the sea floor. Its dampers convert motion into torque and can be configured for the desired output power capacity. Its box spools can be braked for extra cushioning, and it is designed to withstand the ocean’s wrath. The device can survive normal ocean weather and is able to be pulled to safety in extreme situations. Due to its design, its structural cost is expected to be lower than the competition.
CalWave is one of several wave energy technology developers to receive funding from the US Department of Energy. In January, DOE awarded CalWave a $7.5 million grant to develop the xWave technology. The award will help the company continue its efforts to develop and deploy the technology at the nation’s first full-scale wave energy test facility, PacWave South. PacWave South will be the first wave energy test facility to be fully grid-connected. The project is funded by Oregon State University and the US Department of Energy. It is expected to kick the wave energy industry into gear once it is fully operational.
CalWave’s wave energy generator was designed with advanced hydrodynamic simulations to survive major storms. It was also equipped with an onboard autonomous controller system. This controller allowed the device to take over fully autonomous operations for 80% of its operating time.
During the 10-month test period off the coast of San Diego, the device showed 99% system uptime. It also weathered two storms that were larger than expected for a utility-scale system. This test was a success and will further inform CalWave’s next grid-connected deployment.
CalWave recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Alaska. In the near future, the company plans to advance its region-specific deployment to include Alaska. They also plan to continue working on their xWave platform. The company will continue to develop its xWave clean power technology in order to provide coastal communities with sustainable energy and water.