Wave energy to ensure clear communication in the island of Hawaii

US-based wave energy developer Oscilla Power has partnered up with the State of Hawaii and the University of Hawaii to test a new wave energy-powered emergency communication system.

Triton-C being prepared for WETS deployment (Courtesy of Oscilla Power)
Triton-C being prepared for WETS deployment (Courtesy of Oscilla Power)

The partners are testing a new way to provide 24/7 access to emergency communications systems for island residents by installing a communication equipment on Oscilla Power’s Triton-C wave energy device, that will also supply power for the system.

Hawaii’s unique topography presents a challenge for emergency communication systems.

With valleys and waterways separating counties, there are blind spots for communication signals and it is not practical to install a vastly expensive communication facility on every single ridge, according to Oscilla Power.

This makes it difficult for officers to call for backup during enforcement and rescue activities, and the public is similarly unable to reach out for help when assistance is needed, the company noted.

To solve this problem, employees from the State of Hawaii’s Office of Enterprise Technology Services, came up with an elegant and simple solution – to mount the communication equipment on the Triton-C wave energy float being deployed at the U.S. Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS), off the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, which is managed for the US Navy by researchers at the University of Hawaii.

The communication equipment can be reliably powered by the Triton-C, which leverages the consistent motion of waves to generate up to 100kW of clean power, Oscilla Power said.

For this test, the Triton is expected to produce up to 30kW of power to the grid (enough to power about 25 houses), and more than enough to power the communications equipment, the company claims.

Balky Nair, CEO of Oscilla Power, said: “Our wave energy platform has been engineered to withstand the punishing conditions of the sea to provide ongoing power to island communities. But now that same reliability can be leveraged to provide 24-7 access to critical emergency communications, a real double benefit for this type of application.”

Once function is verified and coverage proven to have been effective, additional wave energy floats can be placed offshore in the most remote areas to finally provide desperately needed coverage to these secluded spaces.

Tim Mundon, Oscilla Power’s chief technology officer, added: “When the state and the University of Hawaii came to us with this idea, we immediately saw the power of the innovative approach. It’s incredibly gratifying to not only be able to create clean power for the island, but also enable critical connectivity that could very well save lives.”

Oscilla Power’s Triton wave energy device is a multi-mode point absorber that consists of a geometrically optimized surface float connected to a ring-shaped, vertically asymmetric heave plate.

Triton’s surface float can extract energy from ocean waves in all six degrees of freedom allowing for increased energy capture across a wider range of ocean conditions, according to Oscilla Power.

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