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The Department of Energy wants to harness the energy of oceans to fight climate change

The U.S. Department of Energy is funding new research looking to harness the power of the oceans as a new source of energy for life onshore.

Emission-free energy generated from oceans and tides is one of the holy grails of the renewable energy industry and has been for a very very long time.

Companies have spent tens of millions of dollars to convert waves and tidal power into electricity, but most of those efforts were costly failures.

Investors think that the environment is too corrosive and that the solutions will never be cost competitive with other forms of energy generation.

While that may be true of previous iterations of the technology, new materials, and new approaches may make a difference this time around.

That's why the DOE is funneling $25 million into new research.

The funding will support eight projects that completed the first round of open-water testing at the PacWave South test site off the Oregon coast.

“Harnessing the unrelenting power of the ocean is a clean, innovative, and sustainable way to curtail carbon pollution — benefitting American businesses and families, especially coastal communities hit hardest by the impacts of climate change,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, in a statement. “Diversifying and expanding our clean energy sources will usher in a new era of energy independence that makes the grid more resilient, curbs the climate crisis, and saves Americans money on their energy bills.”

The largest award by far is going to a startup called CalWave Power Technologies, which received a $7.5 million grant to pursue wave energy converters for use in remote areas or on small, local energy grids. Some industry watchers think that CalWave Power might be the best shot for the U.S. in unlocking the power of wave energy.

Another grantee that came in with a several million dollar package was Columbia Power Technologies, a Charlottesville, Va.-based company that's also pursuing wave energy conversion tech. That company received nearly $4.2 million in DOE funding.

Dehlsen Associates, which has developed renewable energy technologies through its EcoMerit Technologies business, and Oscilla Power both received $1.8 million to develop technologies that could be tied to the grid or operate independently as power generation sources.

“Thanks to this funding from the Department of Energy, these nine projects will be diving in to advance our clean energy economy,” said U.S. Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts. “These federal grants will provide the necessary investments to responsibly and more efficiently harness power from U.S. waters, extending all the way from New Bedford, Massachusetts to the Pacific Northwest. Let’s ride these waves to our clean energy future.”

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