UH research center adds renewable energy focus

Only Navy-University affiliated research center specializing in this area

University of Hawaiʻi
Michael Vitale, (808) 956-0431
Executive Director, Applied Research Lab at UH, Office of the Vice President for Research
Eric R. Matsunaga, (808) 956-5588
Director, Research & Administrative Operations, Office of the Vice President for Research
Posted: Nov 13, 2014


The U.S. Navy has modified its contract with the Applied Research Laboratory at University of Hawai`i (ARL/UH) to add a new core technical competency in renewable energy. 

“ARL/UH is now the only Navy University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) in a strategic relationship with the U.S. government that is focused on delivering essential research and engineering in the field of renewable energy,” said ARL/UH Executive Director Mike Vitale, VADM USN (Ret).    

“The Navy has lead the armed services in recognizing the need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and develop greater use of renewables for both ships and shore stations,” Vitale said. “This modification will allow UH to continue its green energy work with the Navy and other federal government agencies, especially in smart grid technologies that allow for greater integration with renewable energy across the commercial grid.”

The University of Hawai`i was recently awarded more than $11.8 million in task orders to support grid modernization and ocean wave energy testing and support for the Navy - renewable-energy related work that qualified as mission-related research and development under the previous terms of the UARC contract.  This work is primarily being performed by its Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute unit.

The new contract modification officially recognizes UH’s comprehensive and sustained research in renewable energy and specifically allows for “basic and applied research and engineering, systems engineering, modeling and simulation, and test and evaluation of technologies and techniques for the efficient and cost-effective development, use, and integration of renewable energy resources to address National Security needs and issues.

Under the new terms of the agreement, UH is specifically approved to apply its expertise to biomass, bio-renewable resources, biotechnology, geothermal, wind, hydrogen, methane hydrates, ocean resources (marine energy), fuel cells, photovoltaics, transportation, energy storage, and electrical grid systems projects for the U.S. Navy and other federal agencies, as well as the critical technologies and data associated with efforts executed under the UARC’s mission areas and supporting core competencies.

For the past seven years, the Navy contract with ARL/UH has only officially recognized research in four areas: astronomy, ocean sciences, remote sensing/electro-optics, and engineering support to communications, sensors and information technology. 

At the urging of the ARL/UH, the Navy conducted an assessment of UH’s energy research capabilities last year and recently concluded that its renewable energy capability was unique and of strategic value to the Navy. The new contract modification recognizes and codifies this capability into its own stand-alone core competency.   



The University of Hawai‘i (UH) was established in 1907 and its campuses are all fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The UH System comprises all public higher education in the state of Hawai`i and provides a rich array of associate, baccalaureate, graduate, and professional degrees and certificates to about 60,000 students through seven community colleges, two baccalaureate campuses and a major research university that holds land-, space- and sea-grant designations. For more information, visit www.hawaii.edu.



The ARL/UH was established in 2008 as one of five Navy University Affiliated Research Centers. The ARL/UH serves as a research center of excellence for helping the Navy and other government agencies connect defense research needs with UH researchers in the areas of astronomy, ocean science, remote sensing and electro-optics, renewable energy and engineering support to communications, sensors and information technology.  For more information visit: www.hawaii.edu/arl