For Immediate Release: September 19, 2008

HONOLULU–The Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) at the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology has been selected by the federal Department of Energy (DOE) to establish one of two National Marine Renewable Energy Research Centers.

The DOE will provide a grant to HNEI of approximately $1 million per year for as many as five years to conduct renewable energy research and development of technologies that harness the power of waves and ocean thermal energy conversion.

“As a test center, UH will receive federal funding to study and encourage the implementation of wave energy systems in Hawaiian waters,” said State Representative Cynthia Thielen who has been a strong advocate of wave energy development. “Our strong wave climate, combined with the highest use of fossil fuel and electricity rates in the nation, make Hawaii an ideal location for the development of lower -cost wave power.”

“The Department of Energy is aggressively pursuing the development of next-generation technologies that are capable of producing renewable energy to add to our nation’s diverse energy portfolio,” Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy John Mizroch said. “Wave, tidal, and current-driven hydro power is an important clean, natural, and domestic energy source that will promote energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The National Renewable Marine Energy Center in Hawaii will facilitate the development and implementation of commercial wave energy systems and to assist the private sector in moving ocean thermal energy conversion systems beyond proof-of-concept to pre-commercialization, long-term testing.

These Centers are a public-private partnership that will assess and evaluate the viability and cost-competitiveness of using advanced water power systems.

The Center in Hawaii will serve as a national information clearinghouse for the marine renewable energy industry that will collect and disseminate information on best practices in research.

The Department of Energy is expected to award HNEI $978,048 later this year and exact funding will be determined for subsequent years thereafter.

“Wave energy converters require engineers, consultants, commercial divers, maintenance crews, marine transport services, technicians and shipyard services. A vibrant wave energy industry will create well-paying jobs while keeping billions of dollars in our state economy instead of shipping them primarily to foreign countries to pay for oil,” Representative Thielen said.

“With the recent surge in oil prices, renewable energy systems have been experiencing a renaissance. Investors who wanted nothing to do with renewable energy companies a few years ago are now scrambling to get their money invested in leading technologies. Those investors now can compete to catch the wave.”

“This award is another important step in implementing the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative, harnessing the endless supply of wave and potential deep ocean energy we have surrounding our islands,” said Ted Liu, Director of the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.


For more information, contact:
Ted Liu
Director – Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism