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Harnessing the Power of Waves: A Conversation with Breakwave Energy's William Lyman

Exploring Innovative Solutions for Renewable Energy and Water Desalination with Breakwave Energy

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Devin: What is your superpower?

Bill: I think an understanding of the ocean through the experiences that I've had in it.

In today’s episode of "Superpowers for Good," I had the pleasure of speaking with William R. Lyman, better known as Bill, the founder and CEO of Breakwave Energy. Bill's company is tackling one of the most persistent challenges in renewable energy: harnessing the power of ocean waves.

Wave energy presents a unique opportunity in the renewable energy landscape. Unlike solar and wind, which are limited by weather conditions and time of day, waves are a constant force driven by distant storms and the natural movement of the ocean. Bill explained this key advantage, saying, "Waves are driven by 1000-mile-away storms, and they break all day long, all night. Water is 800 times more dense than air. So, you always grab more energy from waves, but you have to do it in a way that's cost-effective."

However, harnessing wave energy is no easy feat. The ocean's harsh environment can destroy equipment, making it challenging to maintain and cost-ineffective. Bill likens their approach to the Heisman pose, “You’ve got to hold on to the ball and get into the end zone while making sure nothing touches you.” This means placing minimal infrastructure in the water and ensuring it can withstand the ocean's destructive forces.

One of the most exciting aspects of Breakwave Energy's technology is its potential for scalability and versatility. Bill shared, "We have the ability to not only produce electricity but also to scale our technology to meet the needs of small villages or larger areas, and even to desalinate water directly using wave energy."

Bill's innovative approach and commitment to rigorous testing before deployment highlight his dedication to creating a sustainable and effective solution for renewable energy. His team's ongoing collaboration with Cal State University San Marcos to test electrical components exemplifies their meticulous and thorough process.

Today’s episode was a deep dive into the future of renewable energy and the incredible potential of wave energy. I’m thrilled to share Bill's insights and innovations with you. His work at Breakwave Energy is not just about harnessing waves but also about offering scalable solutions that can significantly impact both developed and developing regions around the globe.


1. Introduction to Breakwave Energy: William Lyman, founder and CEO of Breakwave Energy, discusses the company's focus on harnessing wave energy as a renewable resource to address climate change. Unlike solar and wind, wave energy is constant and more efficient due to water's density.

2. Challenges of Wave Energy: William highlights the difficulties of building wave energy infrastructure in the harsh ocean environment, detailing the ocean's destructive nature and the need for cost-effective and durable solutions to harness wave power.

3. Prototyping and Testing: Breakwave Energy has been developing and testing prototypes with promising results. They plan to install and test a larger prototype with the assistance of Cal State University San Marcos. William emphasizes the importance of thorough testing before deployment to avoid wasting investor funds.

4. Crowdfunding and Investment: The company has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Raise Green, a platform focused on renewable energy projects. William explains the global potential of wave energy, particularly in developing nations with extensive coastlines, which can benefit significantly from this technology.

5. Potential Applications and Future Goals: William envisions scalable applications of wave energy, from small village projects to large grid integrations. He also discusses innovative uses, such as desalinating water directly using wave power. His superpower, a deep understanding of the ocean from his surfing and Navy SEAL experiences, plays a crucial role in the practical and efficient design of Breakwave's technology.


How to Develop Ocean Mastery As a Superpower

Bill Lyman's superpower is his deep and practical understanding of the ocean, which he developed through years of surfing and his experience as a Navy SEAL. This extensive knowledge enables him to design innovative, cost-effective wave energy solutions that can withstand the ocean’s harsh conditions.

Bill shared an anecdote from his surfing days in Hawaii, where he demonstrated his deep understanding of the ocean’s currents and channels. Despite his friend’s skepticism, Bill navigated the waves more efficiently by predicting the best route, highlighting how his profound knowledge of the ocean's behavior gives him a significant edge in his work at Breakwave Energy.

Tips for Developing Ocean Mastery and Other Experiential Expertise:

1. Embrace Challenges: Bill emphasizes the importance of gaining experience in all conditions, not just favorable ones. "If you don’t surf good when it’s bad, you’ll surf bad when it’s good."

2. Commit to Consistency: Regular practice, even when conditions are tough, is crucial. This consistent effort builds deeper understanding and skill.

3. Prepare for Adversity: Reflecting on his Navy SEAL experience, Bill advises facing difficult situations head-on. True expertise is developed through overcoming challenges, not just enjoying easy victories.

4. Seek Solitude for Growth: Like the early gym-goers, Bill suggests that the most valuable experiences often come when you’re working hard while others aren’t.

By following Bill Lyman’s example and advice, you can make ocean mastery a skill. With practice and effort, you could make it a superpower that enables you to do more good in the world.

Remember, however, that research into success suggests that building on your own superpowers is more important than creating new ones or overcoming weaknesses. You do you!

Guest Profile

William R Lyman (El Dudearino ):

CEO Founder, Breakwave Energy

About Breakwave energy: It takes the horizontal power of waves and turns them into vertically stored energy. 

Company Website:

Other URL:

Biographical Information: Former Navy SEAL designs Wave Energy Converter. 

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We host changemakers who are using regulated investment crowdfunding for social impact--impact crowdfunding--as impact investors or social entrepreneurs, catalyzing change with leadership skills we call superpowers.