U.S. startup launches scalable wave energy converter, usable with solar


US-based startup Wavr LLC has developed a wave energy converter (WEC) that could be used for low-power marine applications.

Wavr developed its first prototypes for consumers, such as boat owners. The company claims that the system is particularly suitable for water surfaces with weak waves, as its modular design is able to increase the required power output by integrating more systems in an array configuration.

The technology can be used in low-power marine data buoys and internet of things (IoT) devices, according to the company, which claims its technology has no intermittency issues found in some other renewable energy technologies.

“The system is also designed to be scaled up and integrated with other renewable energy technologies,” the company said, noting that future prototypes may also be combined with photovoltaic panels installed on top of the floaters, small wind turbines, mini-hydropower systems or other tidal energy technologies.

“We feel the hybrid unit with solar panels is the next most important prototype for us. We are currently developing it with a group called Infrgy,” the company's founder, Clyde Igarashi, told pv magazine. “We’re using conventional PV panels rated at IP68 to handle conditions out at sea. The panels are placed directly on top of the WEC modules and cables are protected by rubber seals. Micro inverters under the panels are used to synchronize with the frequency and amplitude of our wave energy converter.”

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The standalone system is made of 3D-printed plastic and has a weight of 4.5 kg. It embeds an internal battery to store energy and is linkable to external batteries, the manufacturer said. It features a power output of 3 W per square foot (0.09 m2).

“After we perfect the hybrid Wavr with solar panels, the next step would be to link arrays together,” Igarashi said. “Currently we are targeting a price of around $2,300, which would include five 40 W solar panels. The 200 W solar system with inverter accounts for approximately $800 of the cost.”

He also stated that the price should decrease significantly with scale. “We haven’t yet done an LCOE calculation for any specific location,” he added.

Wavr is based in Mililani, Honolulu County, Hawaii.


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