On March 22, WPTO announced a total of $7.1M will be awarded to 7 projects across 5 DOE national labs: the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). The project selections were made as a result of a competitive call to the national labs, issued in December 2020, designed to invest in lab infrastructure in support of advancing marine energy technologies. Awards were made under two topics:

  1. Powering the Blue Economy Infrastructure Upgrades and Modernization, to support infrastructure needed to support the development of marine energy technologies power diverse markets and scientific missions identified through WPTO’s Powering the Blue Economy Initiative (PBE), and
  2. Roadmap & Analysis of Long-Term Laboratory-Wide Infrastructure Upgrades for Marine Energy, to support the labs’ development of roadmaps on long-term infrastructure needs for marine energy.

The limited availability of marine energy testing infrastructure is a critical challenge to the advancement of marine energy technologies, as it severely limits the ability of technology developers to quickly assess the performance of devices and components, innovate solutions where necessary, and deploy the next generation of devices. WPTO works to address these challenges in multiple ways, including investing in and enabling access to world-class testing infrastructure. Also, as WPTO expands its support to research to leverage marine energy to power the Blue Economy, there is a clear need to upgrade or install new infrastructure at the national laboratories to support the development and demonstration of technologies designed at different scales and for different blue economy applications.

Lab(s)Project TitleProject DescriptionTotal Project Cost

Large-Amplitude Motion Platform for Wave Motion Simulation

NREL proposes to add a six-degree-of-freedom motion platform to the existing Flatirons Campus infrastructure to enable more realistic integrated hybrid marine energy systems research and development (R&D) in a controlled laboratory setting.  This capability will bridge the gap between tank testing and component/sub-system validation, and open-ocean testing, resulting in accelerated and more cost and time effective systems validation, risk reduction, and innovative technology maturation.



Fast Iteration, Research and Evaluation (FIRE) Wave Tank

NREL proposes to procure a small-scale wave tank that will establish exploratory hydrodynamic testing and technology development capabilities at the NREL Flatirons Campus for quick evaluation of novel wave energy converter configurations and other fundamental research activities. This capability will enable a variety of high value R&D projects, ranging from system calibration and test article shakedown to more fundamental prototyping applications.



A deep-water Marine and Hydrokinetic (MHK) shakedown tank

This project will execute modifications and upgrades to the existing infrastructure to accommodate shakedown testing of MHK systems. Once complete, the facility will function as a crucial shakedown test site for developers prior to at-sea deployments, significantly de-risking the transition to open ocean tests.



Power Take-Off (PTO) and Mooring Lines Reliability Testing Facility

This project will design and develop a facility for testing belts and ropes for MHK applications, including those for PTO and mooring lines. The new facility will leverage the instrumentation and testing systems of the Sandia Wave Energy Power Take-Off (SWEPT) lab. The new facility will enable short- and long-term testing to understand the mechanical properties and technical limitations of not only belt and rope materials, but also the stitching or clamping at the end of the belt or rope, which was identified as a potential weak link in a previous study.



Hybrid Research Vessel to Serve and Represent the Next Generation of Blue Economy Technology

PNNL is seeking funds to acquire a modern research vessel to enhance existing capabilities and enable future research and testing to support renewable power from the ocean and enabling technologies. A key feature of a modern research vessel would include a hybrid power plant that will equip the vessel with both standard diesel engines for cruising at fast speeds (e.g., 20 knots) and over long ranges (e.g., 300 nautical miles), and quieter, energy-efficient, and zero-emissions electric engines for slow-speed research work of long durations (up to 6 hours). A new vessel will support industry/multi-laboratory/university collaboration at MCRL aligned with WPTO and DOE coastal science and engineering missions, while also helping WPTO and PNNL achieve strategic priorities identified in PNNL’s Coastal and Marine Science Strategy.



A Cabled Research Array for the Blue Economy and Energy (CRABEE)

PNNL’s MCRL will develop a testbed, enabling blue economy and marine energy innovation in a natural tidal energy environment. It will link a high-power and data throughput cable with a battery energy storage system (BESS) planned for the MCRL facility to a subsea node in the swift inlet to Sequim Bay. The node will serve as a hub for future deployments and demonstrations of community-scale tidal energy devices, blue economy technology, and oceanographic sensors and platforms. This proposed work will be conducted in partnership with the Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington who has deep expertise in subsea infrastructure R&D for ocean observation.



Long-Term Laboratory-wide Facilities and Infrastructure Upgrades Strategy for Marine Energy

This work supports the continued advancement of the marine energy industry by developing a detailed understanding of (1) present and future ME testing needs; (2) existing infrastructure and capabilities across the ME facility network (emphasizing national lab key assets); and (3) identifying opportunities for new investments and/or leveraging existing capabilities to strategically support WPTO programmatic goals.