Wave Energy Test Site Environmental Assessment

August 19, 2014


O‘ahu, Hawai‘i


Department of Defense Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific

Hawai‘i has significant potential to generate electrical power from wave energy and HHF Planners (HHF) is assisting in bringing in a tide of renewable energy options for government and industry. HHF recently prepared a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Assessment (EA) for the U.S. Navy to establish a deep-water site to test various wave energy conversion (WEC) devices offshore of Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCB Hawaii), Kaneohe Bay. In order to improve the nation’s energy security and independence, the U.S. Navy has a goal of producing at least 50% of its shore-based energy requirements from alternative sources by 2020. With its desirable wave climate and proximity to shoreside supporting infrastructure, the project area offers a prime location to test the feasibility of using wave power for Department of Defense facilities worldwide.

WEC devices convert the mechanical energy of a wave into electrical power. Two berths for testing WEC devices will be located in about 200 feet and 260 feet of water, between 6,500 and 8,200 feet offshore, respectively. Electrical power generated at the deep-water WEC devices will be transmitted to shore via subsea cables and connected to the MCB Hawaii grid. Scientific data (e.g., waves, currents, underwater sound, electromagnetic fields) will also be gathered to evaluate WEC device performance and impacts.

The combination of the project’s land- and marine-based components presented complex environmental planning challenges to balance engineering requirements of the test site with protection of marine species and culturally-sensitive terrestrial features. HHF supported the Navy’s National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 and Endangered Species Act Section 7 consultation processes. HHF also prepared a communications plan to facilitate coordination among the team members representing the project proponent, host installation, engineers/designers, and WEC device developer. The EA resulted in a Finding of No Significant Impact.


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