Hawaii's blue ocean is making things greener - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii's blue ocean is making things greener

John Dunbar John Dunbar

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii is known for its surf, but now, its waves are being used for more than just sport. The motion of the ocean is helping Hawaii become a leader in wave energy.

Parts of the Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe are actually drawing electrical power from ocean waves. The U.S. Navy, along with the company Ocean Power Technologies, have been testing this kind of alternative energy for years. While it's still in the early stages, they say it's the first time wave technology has produced power to an electrical grid in the U.S.

A yellow buoy in the middle of Kaneohe bay may not look like much from aboard our Navy escort boat, but underwater, the technology is converting wave energy into electricity that could potentially power much of the Marine Corps base.

"For this type of technology, what you need is not really good surfing waves, but you need waves that are in short duration," says John Dunbar, an energy management consultant for the Marine Corps Base Hawaii facilities department.

The buoy runs 100 feet below the water's surface. The yellow float and a black pole or ‘spar' move with the rise and fall of the waves and drive a generator that produces electricity. It sits about three-quarters of a mile offshore, while data is being collected on land.

An undersea cable connects the buoy to an office onshore - where engineers evaluate how much power is being produced. Eventually, they'd like to expand the buoy into something much bigger on the bay. "Like a buoy farm, which would all be generating power and feeding back into the grids," explains Dunbar.

Wave power hasn't had the attention that other alternative energy sources, like solar and wind, have - in part, because it's more complex.

"The ocean's tough. The ocean's rough. It takes some sophisticated technology to make it work out there. It's not a matter of just throwing something in the water and think, ‘It's going to produce power' because the ocean will beat it up," Dunbar elaborates.

This could be a model for other military installations around the world. The Secretary of the Navy wants half of all energy use on naval bases to come from alternative sources by 2020, and the commanding officer at Kaneohe's base hopes they can be energy self-sustaining by 2015.

Congress had earmarked two million dollars annually for this project since 2001. However, this year, the budget was slashed considerably, and they only received 450-thousand dollars.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

  • Hawaii News Now headlinesNewsMore>>

  • Flood advisory canceled on Kauai, but flood watch continues

    Flood advisory canceled on Kauai, but flood watch continues

    Tuesday, September 25 2018 11:48 AM EDT2018-09-25 15:48:06 GMT
    State radar at 4:35 am. (Image: Hawaii News Now)State radar at 4:35 am. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

    The National Weather Service in Honolulu has canceled a flood advisory that was in effect for heavy rain on the Garden Isle.

    More >>

    The National Weather Service in Honolulu has canceled a flood advisory that was in effect for heavy rain on the Garden Isle.

    More >>
  • Bye bye bugs? Scientists fear non-pest insects are declining

    Bye bye bugs? Scientists fear non-pest insects are declining

    Thursday, September 20 2018 1:19 AM EDT2018-09-20 05:19:36 GMT
    Tuesday, September 25 2018 10:45 AM EDT2018-09-25 14:45:54 GMT
    (AP Photo/Don Ryan). FILE - In this May 26, 2010 file photo, a Coccinellidae, more commonly known as a ladybug or ladybird beetle, rests on the petals of a rose in Portland, Ore. A study estimates a 14 percent decline in ladybugs in the United States a...(AP Photo/Don Ryan). FILE - In this May 26, 2010 file photo, a Coccinellidae, more commonly known as a ladybug or ladybird beetle, rests on the petals of a rose in Portland, Ore. A study estimates a 14 percent decline in ladybugs in the United States a...

    Scientists are noticing fewer and fewer moths, ladybugs, fireflies and butterflies, but they can't quite quantify what's happening to flying insects because they never measured how many bugs there used to be.

    More >>

    Scientists are noticing fewer and fewer moths, ladybugs, fireflies and butterflies, but they can't quite quantify what's happening to flying insects because they never measured how many bugs there used to be.

    More >>
  • UN: Excessive drinking killed over 3 million people in 2016

    UN: Excessive drinking killed over 3 million people in 2016

    Saturday, September 22 2018 2:20 PM EDT2018-09-22 18:20:51 GMT
    Tuesday, September 25 2018 11:34 AM EDT2018-09-25 15:34:24 GMT
    (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan, FILE). FILE- In this Nov. 27, 2012 file photo, a customer checks bottles of imported wine at a supermarket in Beijing. The World Health Organization said in a report published Friday Sept. 21, 2018,  that drinking too much ...(AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan, FILE). FILE- In this Nov. 27, 2012 file photo, a customer checks bottles of imported wine at a supermarket in Beijing. The World Health Organization said in a report published Friday Sept. 21, 2018, that drinking too much ...
    The World Health Organization says that drinking too much alcohol killed more than 3 million people in 2016, mostly men.More >>
    The World Health Organization says that drinking too much alcohol killed more than 3 million people in 2016, mostly men.More >>
Powered by Frankly