The Wave Energy Prize was announced in 2015 during the keynote address at the National Hydropower Association conference, International Marine Renewable Energy Conference, and Marine Energy Technology Symposium. This announcement represented a milestone for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Wind and Water Power Technologies Office – the commencement of its first public prize challenge, with a total purse of US $2.25 million, stemmed from realizing that a technology leap in the efficiency of wave energy converters (WEC) was needed to jolt wave energy toward sweeping cost reductions. This pathway could ultimately make wave energy, still in early stages of development, competitive with more traditional forms of energy, paving the way to large-scale implementation within a generation.
Fast-forward a year – 92 teams registered for the Wave Energy Prize, with 66 of these submitting technical data for review by the judging panel. In August 2015, 20 teams were qualified and began developing 1/50th scale models of their WEC devices. Between then and January 2016, they submitted revisions, numerical modeling results, model design and construction plans, and results from their 1/50th scale model tank testing in order to move to the next round of evaluation.
On March 1, DOE announced nine finalists and two alternates. Each finalist will now receive up to $125,000 of seed funding from DOE, with alternates receiving up to $25,000 to develop 1/20th scale models of their WEC technologies. These models will be tested at the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Maneuvering and Seakeeping (MASK) Basin at Carderock, Md., beginning this summer.
ACE – a benefit-to-cost ratio – was selected as a metric appropriate for comparing low technology readiness level WEC concepts when there is not enough data to calculate the levelized cost of energy from a device. ACE is determined by dividing, in essence, the wave energy extraction of a WEC by its structural cost. Finalists were determined based on their potential to double the current state-of-the-art ACE value of 1.5 meters per million dollars (m/$M) to 3 m/$M during 1/20th scale tank testing at the MASK Basin, making them eligible to win the grand prize of $1.5 million.
Testing is to begin in August and run through mid-October, with the prize winner(s) announced in November. For information about the teams, click here
This article was previously published in the April issue of Hydro Review magazine.
Alison LaBonte, PhD, is the marine and hydrokinetic technology program manager for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power Technologies Office.
Lead image credit: F Mira | Flickr