The U.S. Department of Energy, on behalf of the Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO), today announced $25 million in funding for eight innovative marine energy projects. Projects selected for negotiations will support increased research, development, and demonstration of wave energy technologies and represent the first round of open-water testing at the PacWave South test site off the Oregon coast.

These selections are part of a WPTO funding opportunity announcement, “Advancing Wave Energy Technologies through Open Water Testing at PacWave.” The selected projects focus on three topic areas.

Topic Area 1: Testing Wave Energy Converter (WEC) Technologies at PacWave: This topic focuses on testing WEC system designs intended for remote and microgrid applications, as well as open-source WEC systems that aim to generate publicly available data and knowledge. Selected projects include:

  • CalWave Pilot at PacWave
    • Lead: CalWave Power Technologies Inc.
    • Partners: American Bureau of Shipping, Eaton Corporation, Evergreen Innovations, Fluor, Glosten Associates, Sause Brothers, and Thompson Metal Fab.
    • Building on its 2021 deployment off the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s research pier in San Diego, CalWave plans to deploy and test a 50-kilowatt xWave WEC device at PacWave. The goal of this project is to advance the technology’s efficiency and increase its cost-effectiveness.
  • SeaRAY k2 Autonomous Offshore Power System Testing at PacWave South
    • Lead: Columbia Power Technologies Inc.
    • Partners: EC-OG; Sea Engineering; 48 North Solutions; EOM Offshore, LLC; Viasat/Rignet; DNV-GL; Durham & Bates; Vicor; Cardinal Engineering; and Harris Thermal.
    • This project aims to advance the SeaRAY k2 autonomous offshore power system (AOPS) to commercial readiness. The SeaRAY k2 AOPS consists of the SeaRAY k2 WEC with fully integrated station keeping (or the ability to perform adjustments to maintain its position) and the capacity to collect and send data and store energy. It is designed to support unmanned offshore activities and equipment, including subsea vehicles, sensor packages, and operating equipment.

Topic Area 2: Advancing WEC Designs for PacWave: This topic supports the development of robust WEC system designs to generate off-grid or grid-connected power. By the end of the award period, the designed systems are expected to be ready for fabrication, deployment, and prototype testing at PacWave South. Selected projects include:

  • Detailed Design of a Multi-Mode Point Absorber for Testing at PacWave
    • Lead: Oscilla Power Inc.
    • Partners: Applied Control Engineering, Inc.; Applied Motion Systems, Inc; DNV-GL; Glosten Associates Inc.; Spencer Fluid Power; and Marine Systems Modelling.
    • This project will make performance improvements to the Triton WEC identified during previous WPTO-funded projects. The team will also develop a detailed design for a system that can be tested at the PacWave facility and generate design drawings in preparation for construction of the device.
  • Centipod WEC Design for PacWave
    • Lead: Dehlsen Associates, LLC.
    • Partners: Tension Technology International, Elliot Bay Design Group LLC, McCleer Power Inc, DNV, Cinch Inc, Flexlife Group Inc, and University of New Hampshire.
    • This project aims to design the Centipod 1P6 (C1P6), a point absorber WEC. A point absorber is a smaller type of WEC, relative to average wave sizes, that can absorb energy using a floating buoy tethered to a fixed reference point. The C1P6 uses a small, controllable power take-off system, which turns the energy absorbed from the wave into electricity. The WEC also uses an inflatable float that offers the potential for significant cost improvements.

Topic Area 3: Wave Energy R&D at PacWave: This topic area directly leverages the PacWave test facility to perform impactful wave energy R&D that will advance the marine energy industry as a whole. These projects are expected to advance WEC systems, system components, environmental monitoring technologies, instrumentation and prognostic health monitoring systems, wave measurement systems, and other supporting technologies. Selected projects include:

  • Combining Machine Learning and Predictive Modeling with a Novel Lightweight Multi-Axis Point Absorber System, Toward a Cost-Disruptive WEC Approach
    • Lead: Littoral Power Systems, Inc.
    • Partners: GE Research, Rohrer Technology Inc. d/b/a RTI Wave Energy, Marquette University, Kelson Marine Co., and Ballard Marine Construction.
    • This project aims to deploy the NeuralWEC with the goal of demonstrating that the use of sensor‐based and artificial intelligence-enabled supervisory controls in real-world sea states can double a WEC’s cost efficiency.
  • Open Water Testing of an Electromagnetic Resonant Power Take-off Generator
    • Lead: Portland State University.
    • Partners: AquaHarmonics; CalWave Power Technologies; FluxMagic, Inc.; Oscilla Power; and Resolute Marine Energy.
    • This project plans to test and validate a new type of electromagnetic resonant power take-off WEC component technology. Using this power take-off technology, a WEC may be able to generate power with a favorably low peak-to-average power ratio of 3:1. (A lower peak-to-average power ratio can indicate a design that is well matched to anticipated wave intensity.)
  • Towards Parametric Source Functions for WECs
    • Lead: University of Washington.
    • Partner: Integral Consulting, Inc.
    • This effort aims to create a library of acoustic events that will help WEC developers and regulators address concerns about sound from WECs. Researchers will make acoustic measurements at PacWave and then detect, localize, and identify sounds attributable to WECs.
  • An Environmental Data Integration and Assessment Tool for Supporting Marine Energy Adaptive Management Frameworks
    • Lead: Integral Consulting Inc.
    • Partners: Pacific Energy Ventures, Kearns & West, and H.T. Harvey & Associates.
    • This project aims to develop and demonstrate an environmental data integration assessment (EDIA) tool to support effective environmental monitoring and adaptive management frameworks for marine energy projects. The EDIA tool will serve as a central repository for all environmental data collected at PacWave.

Waves are created when wind blows over the surface of open water in the ocean, and this movement results in a large amount of natural energy. To capture this energy and convert it to carbon-free electricity, researchers use a wave energy converter. Advancing wave energy converters requires testing in realistic conditions. However, testing in the open ocean is difficult due to permitting challenges and the few available test sites. In 2016, DOE partnered with Oregon State University to build the PacWave South test facility, which will be the nation’s first accredited, grid-connected, pre-permitted, open-water wave energy test facility.

Stay in the know with WPTO! Subscribe to the monthly Water Column and bi-monthly Water Wire newsletters for information on marine energy funding opportunities, events, products, and news.