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Water Power

Applying Lessons from Off-Shore Wind Engineering to Wave Energy Conversion Systems

Company Name: Columbia Power Technologies, Inc.
Program Office: Wind and Water Power Technology
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Award Amount ($): $300,000
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: Active
Participating Lab(s): Sandia National Laboratories/National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Columbia Power Technologies, Inc. (CPwr) is developing a wave energy conversion (WEC) system — the StingRAY — that converts ocean waves into clean, cost-competitive, utility-scale electricity for customers in the United States and worldwide.

To date, state-of-the-art WEC devices have not been able to overcome five hurdles that have prevented commercial viability: lack of survivability; insufficient energy capture and conversion efficiency; poor reliability; difficult, expensive marine operations; and design choices that force the use of inefficient, expensive components and subsystems.

This project offers a practical and readily-available solution to a number of these highly-complex technical issues. In particular, existing capabilities at Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory developed for wind and off-shore engineering can be applied cost effectively to the CPwr wave energy system and to the industry as a whole.


The CPwr team has extensive executive, operational, sales and engineering experience in early-stage high-growth and established businesses, with significant expertise in research and development, capital equipment sales, project management and development and finance. This project will help CPwr accelerate its commercialization timeline by implementing cost reduction strategies for its wave power technologies. In addition to the expected capital expenditure reductions and performance improvements, integrating the project with a wave energy test site deployment could save CPwr significant time and resources as it looks to deploy a large-scale wave energy demonstration. This would result in faster advancement from a medium- to high-technology performance level and a shorter and less-expensive commercialization path.


Reducing the cost of wave energy technology can increase deployment, resulting in the creation of new manufacturing, installation and maintenance jobs in the United States.

Wave energy is clean, renewable and, unlike solar and wind, relatively constant. Developing more clean energy sources like this can reduce pollutants from fossil energy sources, including greenhouse gas emissions.

Diversifying the United States' electricity supply can give grid operators greater flexibility in managing and delivering energy to customers, reducing risks from grid disruption and increasing resiliency.

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