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Marine energy device performance is governed by complex, fluid-structure interactions between the devices and the marine environment. Fundamental scientific and engineering challenges remain in understanding how to best design the most efficient systems to generate power from dynamic, low-velocity, and high-density waves and currents. Resource characteristics can vary significantly on very short timescales (e.g., the passing of an ocean wave or turbulence in water currents), and the ranges of energy intensity that devices experience can vary by several orders of magnitude. Devices must be designed to minimize the cost of energy while still operating reliably for the design life of a project, which can be 20 years or more. Therefore, developing marine energy devices is a multifaceted systems design and optimization challenge that encompasses many engineering disciplines.

Through its Foundational R&D Activity Area, WPTO aims to address these challenges through the following approaches:

  • Drive early-stage R&D focused on components, controls, manufacturing, and materials
  • Develop and validate numerical modeling tools
  • Improve resource assessments and characterizations
  • Develop and apply quantitative metrics to identify and evaluate devices’ potential.

Featured Publications & Projects

Marine Energy in the United States: An Overview of Opportunities
Report summarizing the best available data on U.S. marine energy resources at the national, state, and regional scales.
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Co-Design is Key for Future Wave Energy Systems
From 2014 to 2020, Sandia National Labs and MRE developer Re Vision Consulting investigated advanced controls techniques in wave energy systems.
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Resource Mapping Expands U.S. Wave Energy Estimates
In 2020, WPTO’s multi-lab resource characterization project released the highest resolution, most comprehensive wave dataset publicly available.
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Advanced WEC Dynamics & Controls
The Wave Energy Converter Dynamics and Controls project sought to leverage control design and dynamics modeling to improve the performance of WECs.
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Development, maintenance, and support of WEC-Sim (Wave Energy Converter SIMulator), an open-source code for simulating wave energy converters.
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Energy Department Announces up to $22 Million for Marine Energy Foundational R&D and Testing Infrastructure Upgrades
Energy Department announces marine energy funding opportunity to leverage the expertise and intellectual capital of non-federal research institutions.
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