By Michael N. Ard, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Public Affairs
KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (NNS) -- The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center, hosted a Wave Energy Test Site Blessing Ceremony at Marine Corps Base Hawaii July 26, to mark a renewable ocean energy milestone.
The event signified the opening of deep water berths at the WETS, which, in addition to the existing shallow-water berth, comprise the grid-connected infrastructure.
"So like most of what we do in the Navy, WETS is the product of a partnership, and this one is between the Department of the Navy, the Navy and Marine Corps, private sector developers, Department of Energy and the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, an organization with a more than 40-year history on alternative energy," said guest speaker, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy), Joseph M. Bryan. "Because when it comes to energy, we know that you can't just focus on today's headlines, that's a mistake, you have to keep your eyes on the horizon, on the next wave, planning for the future."
WETS is a research and development endeavor with the objective of accelerating the evolution of wave energy conversion (WEC) technologies. The opportunity to test WEC devices at WETS will accelerate the evolution of WEC device technologies and allow the Navy/Marine Corps to evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of various wave energy conversion configurations, which will in turn pave the way for the public/private sector's use and benefit once these devices become mature.
"Today we're celebrating a renewable source of energy that, in my opinion, is just too good to pass up as it leverages the perpetual motion of the sea," said NAVFAC EXWC Commanding Officer Capt. Jay Mitchell prior to introducing the guest speaker, DASN-Energy Joe Bryan. "We look forward to continuing our strong partnerships and all of the breakthroughs yet to come. EXWC is proud not only to be involved in wave energy conversion, but we have some pretty deep involvement in a number of other renewable energy initiatives. We have projects ongoing throughout the globe in areas of geo-thermal energy, wind energy, biofuels, solid oxide fuel cells, solar energy, micro-grids and literally hundreds of millions of dollars in energy savings performance contracts, which will decrease the energy footprint and increase our resiliency at Navy and Marine Corps installations around the world."
Additionally, as part of the WETS infrastructure, data gathering and research devices such as wave measuring buoys, electromagnetic field recorders, and hydrophones, are being deployed in the vicinity of the WEC devices in order to gather baseline oceanographic and environmental data. The purpose of these instruments is to support WEC research and development and to verify that the existence and operation of the WETS, WEC devices and other related ocean infrastructure do not harm the environment.
"When it comes to energy, you can never have too many options," said Bryan. "More power from more places translates to a more agile, more flexible and more capable force. We're always looking for new ways to power the mission, from solar and alternative fuels to wave energy."
Located on the windward side of Oahu offshore MCBH, the WETS grid-connected, open ocean site is available for testing and demonstrating full-scale WEC systems that have potential for Navy energy applications. The capability was originally established in 2001 with one berth at the 30 meter (98 foot) water depth to support point absorber-type WEC tests. Today, with the addition of two deep-water berths that support both point absorber and oscillating water column WEC testing at 60 meter (197 foot) and 80 meter (262 foot) water depths, a total of three WETS berths are operational as the first U.S. grid-connected facility of its kind, demonstrating the Navy/Marine Corps' commitment to meet the goals and policies given in President Obama's Executive Order 13693 as well as Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) the Honorable Ray Mabus' five energy goals released at the 2009 Naval Energy Forum.
"Questions asked of SECNAV Mabus then, (referring to SECNAV announcing Navy's five energy goals) were, why does the Navy care about energy? What's the point?" said Bryan reflecting on the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. "The bottom line is we're transforming how the Navy and Marine Corps use energy. So we can go further on a tank of gas, we can stay there longer and we can deliver more firepower when we're there. That's the mission and that's why we care."
NAVFAC's ongoing partnership with the Department of Energy's (DOE) Wind and Water Power Program, the University of Hawaii's Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, the Office of Naval Research, and the State of Hawaii continues to support key efforts in understanding the evolution of WEC technologies, environmental monitoring in the vicinity of these devices, and WEC device power performance.
The ceremony ended with a traditional Hawaiian Blessing which included untying the ceremonial maile lei.
"It is certainly in a spirit of Aloha and Ohana that we have joined together with many, many partnerships and a consortium of the Wave Energy Test Site and what has allowed us to come to this time and place, this aina as we know in our land," said Kahu Sherman Thompson. "So we come this day with much, much aloha and thanksgiving and especially now to invoke the blessings of our kahuna for those who have come before us. That indeed allows us now to benefit from this aina, to allow new ways of providing energy for our people and for this land. Let the favor of the almighty power divine be upon us and prosper for us the work of our hands. It was the work of many hands joined together and the ongoing work of many hands to continue to collaborate and to bring renewable energy a reality."