Hawai‘i National Marine Renewable Energy Center (HINMREC)

Hawai‘i National Marine Renewable Energy Center (HINMREC) hneieditor September 20, 2022

The Hawaiʻi National Marine Renewable Energy Center (HINMREC) was established in 2009 with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power Technologies Office. Together with the Northwest and Southeast NMRECs, the initiative aimed to create centers of expertise focused on the advancement of renewable energy technologies in the marine environment. HINMREC began through a contract awarded to the Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) of the University of Hawaiʻi (UH). Preliminary objectives were to: 1) assist the private sector to move Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) systems beyond proof-of-concept to pre-commercialization and 2) facilitate the development and implementation of commercial wave energy systems.

This began with enabling and accelerating the build-out of the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) – the nation’s first grid-connected open-water wave energy conversion test facility, located off Marine Corps Base Hawaiʻi (MCBH) on the island of Oʻahu. WETS is a pre-permitted site with test berths at 30m, 60m, and 80m water depths, with cables to shore connecting to the Oahu power grid at MCBH. Continuing under Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) funding via the Applied Research Laboratory at UH (ARL-UH), WETS provides an infrastructure that allows wave energy developers (as well as developers of supporting environmental sensing systems) to test, demonstrate and evaluate their devices, and generate data to advance WEC designs toward commercial readiness. A key success factor in WETS efforts has been the complimentary collaboration with the U.S. Navy, specifically funding from NAVFAC, and earlier from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Additionally, OTEC development work under HINMREC transitioned effectively to Navy funding under ONR.

HINMREC funding expired in 2019, and the HINMREC Final Report is available at https://www.hnei.hawaii.edu/wp-content/uploads/HINMREC-Final-Technical-Report.pdf. Associated peer-reviewed publications, technical reports, and presentations can be found at https://www.hnei.hawaii.edu/publications/project-reports/hinmrec/. This project also produced two interactive maps depicting the temperature differences between 20m and 100m and average annual power basis, which are available at https://www.hnei.hawaii.edu/hinmrec-reports/AnnualTempDiff.html and https://www.hnei.hawaii.edu/hinmrec-reports/powermaps.html, respectively. However, despite the end of DOE foundational funding, HINMREC continues as a research entity and key contributor to DOE marine energy objectives, as well as a collaborating partner with the other NMREC institutions.

HNEI continues to support the Navy’s WETS under NAVFAC funding. This includes independent WEC device power performance and durability assessments, marine logistics, infrastructure maintenance and upgrades, environmental monitoring (with an emphasis on acoustics), wave resource characterization, wave forecasting, and numerical hydrodynamic modeling. Additionally, through both DOE FOA awards and Navy funds, the marine energy research team at UH has grown substantially to support multiple graduate students and involve a growing number of affiliated UH faculty. Projects include numerous oscillating water column (OWC) and oscillating wave surge WEC concept developments, both for small-scale offshore power generation and for seawater desalination. For ongoing WETS and wave energy work, see https://www.hnei.hawaii.edu/research/ocean-energy/#wave.

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