U.S. government said funding could be available to set up a test site for wave-energy potential. (UPI/Shutterstock/Ethan Daniels)
WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- As much as $40 million may be available to help support the development of a wave-energy testing facility in U.S waters, the Energy Department said.
"If successful, the advancements made possible by this work will further America's progress in proving wave energy as a viable source for our nation's clean energy future," the department reported.
The Energy Department last year deployed a wave energy prototype dubbed Azura at a test site at Kaneohe Bay off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. Developer Northwest Energy Innovations, with help from a $5 million federal grant, tested an earlier prototype off the coast of Oregon in 2014.
The government said the pilot project in Hawaii will give federal researchers the chance to monitor a wave energy converter for potential commercial deployment. Testing of a turbine system driven by ocean currents started two years ago off the coast of Florida.
With more than half the U.S. population living within 50 miles of a coastline, the government said marine and hydrokinetic technologies could help exploit an untapped renewable energy resource.
With the new funding opportunity, the government said it could open a testing facility for wave energy where researchers could find ways to make the technology commercially viable. The government estimates that if 5 percent of the full potential is utilized, "millions" of households could be powered by wave energy.
The U.S. government acknowledged marine and hydrokinetic technology is in its infancy. The British government said similar technology accounts for "only a tiny" fraction of global power, but is expected to expand more than tenfold by 2040, which much of the new generation coming from Europe.
The Department of Energy said new funding opportunities are subject to congressional approval.