StingRAY WEC being tested in Colorado at the National Wind Technology Center

The National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) at the U.S. Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has begun validation work on the first water power technology ever tested in NWTC’s 5-MW dynamometer testing facility just south of Boulder, Colo., according to a Jan. 13 NREL release.

Columbia Power Technologies, based in Corvallis, Ore., is developing the StingRAY wave energy converter (WEC), a system that the company intendeds to deploy in unit arrays at depths of more than 60 meters, with these clusters located up to 3 km from shore, according to the company.

In March 2016, reported that during the International Conference on Ocean Engineering (ICOE) conference held February 2016 in Edinburgh, Scotland, international certification body DNV GL awarded a Statement of Feasibility to Columbia Technologies for the StingRAY WEC.

The Statement of Feasibility recognizes the StingRAY converter as having satisfied the issuing organization’s DNV-OSS-312 specifications for wave and tidal devices. Additionally, the certification recognized Columbia Power’s willingness to openly work with interested stakeholders — including the U.S. Navy, U.S. Department of Energy and potential customers — as work on the device progresses.

Columbia Power is working with NREL and leveraging NWTC’s dynamometer testing facility to further ocean wave energy.

“Though designed to benefit the wind industry, NWTC’s large dynamometer facility is being leveraged to help advance new ocean energy technology,” said NWTC Director, Daniel Laird, in the release.   

Columbia Power Technologies’ Chief Operating Officer, Reenst Lesemann, said, “We are testing the StingRAY at NWTC because the [StingRAY] core design is similar to a wind turbine.”

The StingRAY utilizes a direct drive, but with a very large diameter, said Lesemann in the NREL release, and NWTC’s dynamometer can mimic the sea, with back-and-forth oscillation, and will put the generator through its paces to ensure it can withstand ocean forces.

During the next few months, according to the release, the StingRAY unit will be connected to NWTC’s Controllable Grid Interface for electrical performance characterization.

“We have one of the only facilities in the country with a dynamometer that can apply rotational torque at the speeds and forces required while also applying non-torque loads-which are side forces that simulate the action of a rogue wave hitting a wave energy converter in the ocean,” said Mark McDade, NWTC project manager.

“This matters because the structures of these energy conversion devices must be designed to handle the side forces without damage. The work is pioneering in the field of ocean energy conversion.”

According to the release, land-based StingRAY testing will occur prior to the system’s open-water demonstration scheduled for 2017 at the U.S. Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site in Hawaii.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for

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