Marine Technology Features C-Power on Efforts to Power Up the ‘Blue Desert’
Marine Technology News this month published a feature on the future of energy at sea and the potential for new technologies to overcome the challenge of the “blue desert.” That is, the lack of a continuous and resident source of energy to unlock the future of the ocean economy by enabling autonomous, resident and connected technologies. The publication interviewed C-Power CEO Reenst Lesemann to describe the challenge, the opportunity and why autonomous offshore power systems are the missing piece of the puzzle to change the ocean from a power desert to a power- and data-rich environment.
Underwater energy storage can be likened to the recent boom in electric vehicles (EVs), according to Reenst Lesemann, the CEO of C-Power. EVs have been a compelling alternative for years, but if owners were limited to only charging their cars in their garages, they would never reap the full benefits of the technology.
“The same can be said at sea. It’s not enough to have the best electric ship. Underwater vehicles, surface vessels, operating equipment and data sensors at sea need that electricity to be delivered to them when they need it and how they need it. That means there needs to be a network of charging stations, such as C-Power’s Autonomous Offshore Power Systems (AOPS) that can enable those systems to be truly autonomous, connected and resident,” he said.
There are two primary uses for energy storage in marine environments, said Lesemann. The first is utility-scale renewables, like wind and wave energy, that connect to terrestrial electric grids. Storage is needed to save energy when produced in excess so that it can be delivered during periods of peak demand. At the low-power end of the spectrum are the systems that require in-situ energy. “Today, the ocean is a power desert. There are no resident sources of renewable energy generation or storage for the ocean economy. To operate equipment, sensors, underwater vehicles or unmanned surface vessels at sea, it currently requires people-, capital- and carbon-intensive solutions such as sending manned vessels to recharge systems from diesel-fueled generators.”
C-Power’s solution is AOPS—a series of systems to capture available wave energy and deliver it as electricity to batteries or storage units. The system further connects the sea to the cloud, granting the ability to upload and download data with ease. Specifically, its SeaRAY AOPS is “a moored configuration consisting of a surface wave power system; a single, combined mooring, data, communications and power cable; and a seafloor base unit that provides 55 kWh of energy storage for payload operation.” Altogether, C-Power aims to advance the marine economy through the realization of autonomous, connected and resident technologies.
The SeaRAY will also soon participate in a demonstration in partnership with the U.S. Navy and the Department of Energy in Hawai’i. The energy storage unit to be used will be a Halo underwater battery provided by Verlume, a provider of energy management and storage technologies. The AOPS will be deployed from the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site, and its generation and storage capabilities will support several technologies, including data sensors and a Saab Sabertooth autonomous underwater vehicle.
The first commercially sold SeaRAY AOPS, nicknamed the TigerRAY, went in the water this spring, where its owners tested its capabilities on Lake Washington near Seattle.