Kosrae, Micronesia, Turning To Wave Power

11/12/2011 01:04 pm ET | Updated Jan 12, 2012

Kosrae, one of the four Federated States of Micronesia out in the western Pacific, is aiming to get nearly all of its electricity from the ocean. That sounds pretty daunting, but luckily, it doesn’t need much electricity. The 8,000 people who inhabit Kosrae's 42 square miles now get by with five Caterpillar engine generators that have a combined capacity of 4,580 kilowatts, according to the Kosrae Utilities Authority. And reports say the state will soon have a new 1.5-megawatt wave energy system, offering it a good start toward its marine-power goal.

Details are a little sketchy on the project, which we first learned about on the Renewable Energy Magazine website. That pointed us to Ocean Energy Kosrae, a joint venture between the utilities authority and Ocean Energy Industries, a New Jersey-based company that is supplying the wave device, called the WaveSurfer.

The company describes the WaveSurfer as a "point absorber" whose "main power conversion and generation parts are completely submerged at the depth of between 27 and 80 feet." The company says this protects the device against damage from extreme storms.

If you're thinking Kosrae is a long way from New Jersey and it must have been a pain transporting the system there, well, Ocean Energy Industries says of the WaveSurfer: "Due to its unique design (patent pending) each unit can be cost-effectively transported anywhere in the world and easily assembled at the installation site." The company also says the device “does not contain expensive and complex parts, high precision hydraulics or air pumps ... everything that makes other competing systems extremely expensive."

According to Micronesia's 2010 energy plan [PDF], Kosrae hopes to get 85 percent of its energy from wave power by 2015, with solar and hydro perhaps contributing the remaining 15 percent. It's not the only island looking to go all-green: Earlier this year, the government of the Cook Islands, in the South Pacific, vowed to generate all its electricity from renewable sources use by 2020.


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