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.

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