ORIGINAL REPORTING: Looking For The Power In Waves, Tides, And Currents
Making waves: DOE reboots marine hydrokinetic energy program to push commercialization; Can a new competition and funding move MHK technologies out of the 'Wright brothers stage of development?'
Herman K. Trabish, May 18, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: It is not yet clear that this Energy Department initiative can endure the incoming administration’s lack of knowledge about the potential in it.
Marine hydrokinetic (MHK) energies from the energy in waves, tides, and currents could potentially provide power for more than half of the U.S. population that lives along the coast, but they have one big barrier: No one’s come close to developing a cost-effective model for MHK deployment. From 2008 to 2015, DOE’s program awarded an estimated $136 million for 92 MHK energy projects, according to the Department’s recent project update. Yet there are no U.S. commercial installations and few pilots with real promise. Aware of such failures, the DOE Water Program rebooted during the Obama administration in an attempt to prove the sector’s techno-economic performance, bring in stakeholders, move toward commercialization.
Recent analysis shows the “technically recoverable” potential of MHK resources is immense. For wave energy alone, it’s between 898 TWh and 1,229 TWh each year, accessible along each major American ocean coastline, according to a recent study commissioned by DOE. DOE’s Wave Energy Prize competition, won by AquaHarmonics, aimed to scale the competitors to commercial deployment and use the wealth of U.S. ocean and river resources to build a cost-competitive MHK industry that would diversify the nation's energy portfolio. The three core obstacles to MHK energy growth are technology maturity, deployment barriers, and market development. But niche markets may be opening for these less mature technologies that could break down barriers. One is using the technologies to host and power scientific and national security communication electronics at sea… click here for more