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AquaHarmonics placed first in the 18-month design-built-test Wave Energy Prize competition.

AquaHarmonics placed first in the 18-month design-built-test Wave Energy Prize competition. They and other prize finalists were recognized at the Wave Energy Prize Innovation Showcase at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, in West Bethesda, Maryland. From left: Alison LaBonte, DOE Marine and Hydrokinetic Program Manager; David Friedman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; Max Ginsburg and Alex Hagmuller of AquaHarmonics; Jim Ahlgrimm, Acting Director of DOE's Water Power Technologies Office; Franklin M. Orr, DOE Under Secretary for Science and Energy. (Photo: Ken Shipp/Department of Energy.)

What Is The Wave Energy Prize?

The Wave Energy Prize was an 18-month public design-build-test competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office Marine and Hydrokinetic Program. The prize was designed to increase the diversity of organizations involved in Wave Energy Converter (WEC) technology development, while motivating and inspiring existing stakeholders. The competition achieved game-changing performance enhancements to WEC devices and established pathways to sweeping cost reductions on a commercial scale.

Ninety-two teams registered for the prize beginning in April 2015. Over the course of the competition, a panel of judges ultimately identified nine finalists and two alternates. With the support of the U.S. Navy, the finalist teams tested their prototype devices at the nation's most advanced wave-making facility, the Naval Surface Warfare Center's Maneuvering and Seakeeping Basin at Carderock, Maryland. In November 2016, the Program announced AquaHarmonics as the winner of the Wave Energy Prize, proving a five-fold improvement in WEC technology.

Wave energy is produced by converting the energy from waves into electricity. With more than 50 percent of the U.S. population living within 50 miles of coastlines, America has the potential to develop a domestic wave energy industry that uses an untapped renewable resource to help achieve the nation's energy goals, while also encouraging domestic manufacturing and job growth.

The wave energy sector is in its early stages of development, and the diversity of technologies makes it difficult to evaluate the most technically and economically viable solutions. The Wave Energy Prize Competition addressed this challenge by comparing a wide range of device types and evaluating them against a threshold requirement for high energy capture. The Prize continues to facilitate rapid technical innovation, and the DOE will publish in November 2017 data from all the finalist teams' test results to further accelerate the advancement of this sector.

The Goal

The Wave Energy Prize's goal was to encourage the development of more efficient WEC devices that double the energy captured from ocean waves, which in turn would reduce the cost of wave energy, making it more competitive with other energy solutions.

The Outcome

The Wave Energy Prize proved to be a significant advancement for wave energy technology. Four teams surpassed that competition's goal of doubling. AquaHarmonics' five-fold technology improvement shows how rapid innovation can be achieved in a public prize challenge.