Ocean energy to get a wave of federal funding

The U.S. government is pumping $16 million into projects aimed at producing energy from ocean waves, currents and tides.

The Energy Department said last week that the money will help American companies build wave and tidal devices that cut costs and increase the amount of energy captured. Components and software will be developed, and environmental data will be gathered and analyzed.

The money will fund seventeen projects. Texas A&M University is involved in a project led by Swiss power technologies company ABB, Inc., which will receive $2 million from the Energy Department to build a compact direct-drive generator and demonstrate its viability in a wave energy device by Resolute Marine Energy. The goal is to produce a generator 50 percent smaller than a traditional direct-drive generator, the Energy Department said.

Wave energy:Scientists seek next wave in power generation

The Obama Administration argues that wave and tidal energy is an untapped resource that is clean and renewable and should be expanded as part of the U.S. energy mix.

Last year, the Energy Department forecast that water power could provide 15 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030. It said  that the West Coast, including Alaska and Hawaii, have especially high potential for wave energy development, while significant opportunities also exist along the East Coast, which have strong tides that could be tapped to produce energy.

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Veteran newsman currently covering energy for The Houston Chronicle. Spent 12 years at The Associated Press covering energy, airlines, general business news, legal affairs, politics and state and federal government issues. Won or shared numerous awards and award nominations for coverage of the Gulf oil spill, Delta Air Lines, the Atlanta courthouse shootings and the murders of two Dartmouth College professors. Prior to AP, worked at two daily newspapers in the Boston area.