Wave Power Wants Piece Of Newport Beach Surf

On five occasions since 2009, the owners of Newport Beach, Calif.-based Green Wave Energy have tested their prototype Green Wave Generator about 200 yards offshore from the famed surfing swell, “the Wedge.” According to the company, the results of those preliminary tests have shown that a 1-megawatt array of turbines installed in a location with 2-meter swells can generate power for as little as 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, and achieve a payback period of 2.1 years.

Now, according to the Los Angeles Times, Green Wave Energy is trying to take its field testing to the next level. The company is seeking permission from city officials to install a more permanent prototype at one of Newport Beach’s two piers.

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image via Green Wave Energy

The Green Wave Generator itself is a structurally reinforced fiberglass cylinder housing a large propeller connected to an electric generator. Unlike other wave turbines, which are situated horizontally on the ocean’s surface; the Green Wave Turbine is vertically anchored into a fixed location outside the breakers, with just its top peeking out of the water. The Green Wave generator harvests the energy of water rising and falling through the cylinder, turning the propeller, and transmits the energy to a land-based substation. The five-kilowatt turbines can be scaled up and deployed in any number of units, depending on the location and the electricity production goals.

But it can be difficult for startups like Green Wave Energy to break into the emerging wave energy sector. Large companies like Kawasaki and Rolls-Royce can afford to test their wave energy technologies at world-class testing facilities like the European Marine Energy Center in Orkney, Scotland. But smaller companies like Green Wave Energy face daunting environmental regulations that make it difficult to test their technologies for extended periods of time.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).