Innovation Spotlight: Wave Energy System with Subsea Storage and Onshore Generation

November 14, 2012 07:28 PM EST By: Regina Ramazzini

Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit Innovation Tracker: Atmocean, Inc, a TechConnect Accelerator participant-Honolulu, HI, 2012

The patent-pending WEST wave energy technology of Atmocean, Inc. utilizes arrays of seawater pumps transporting pressurized seawater onshore to generator-connected Pelton motors.  This system also utilizes undersea pressurized seawater storage that can be released during low wave conditions, to insure constant supply of power to the grid. The system protects against high-wave damage by enabling the surface buoys to submerge when wave heights exceed about 10’ (this protective measure inspired by surfers who routinely “duck under” waves as they swim out).

Phil Kithil, CEO at Atmocean, spoke with TechConnectNews about what sets their technology apart from the competition: By using economical hydraulic transmission to onshore electricity generation, WEST eliminates the extra cost of sea floor transmission cables costing up to one million dollars ($1,000,000) per mile.  By functioning in low-wave conditions, the system is available more hours per year, and components are designed to fit in standard 40’ containers, enabling high-volume, low-cost production. In addition, Atmocean employs array moorings to save the cost of undersea operations and divers needed by other technologies that attach each device to the seafloor. With all these strengths, Atmocean achieves the best power to weight ratio of any known wave energy system (kW per tonne data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance as cited in Carnegie 2011 Annual Report).

The company has completed two rounds of ocean testing and received good data on input/output through trials at California Polytechnic State University (2011) and near Coos Bay, Oregon (2012). Once ocean testing of a full-scale unit is completed early next year, they hope to phase-in full operating arrays, with Hawaii, California, the Caribbean, and the UK Wave Hub site being candidates

Earlier this year, Atmocean was selected to present at the Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit’s Project Financing Challenge (PFC). Regarding his experience with the PFC, Mr. Kithil said “It was a great opportunity to receive feedback from an expert panel of executives. The time and effort spent by the PFC committee was evident.”

Based out of Santa Fe, NM the company is currently funded via angel investors and a grant from the Oregon Wave Energy Trust. They are seeking strategic corporate financing as well as venture capital investment.

For more information about the company, please visit:

To learn more about Atmocean’s technology, please visit:


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