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The Water Power Program's marine and hydrokinetic research and development (R&D) efforts focus on advancing technologies that capture energy from the nation's oceans and rivers. Unlike hydropower, marine and hydrokinetics represent an emerging industry with hundreds of potentially viable technologies. The program is therefore leading efforts to prove functionality; evaluate technical and economic viability; and generate cost, performance, and reliability data for a variety of devices.

Marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies convert the energy of waves, tides, and river and ocean currents into electricity. The Department of Energy's "Marine and Hydrokinetic 101" video explains how these technologies work and highlights some of the Water Power Program's efforts in R&D in this area.

The program's efforts fall under three categories: technology development; market acceleration and deployment; and resource assessment and characterization.

Technology Development

The Water Power Program's technology development activities center on reducing the technical barriers to marine and hydrokinetic device development, improving device reliability and performance, and understanding and evaluating various technology types. Specific activities include the following:

  • Supporting the design, development, testing, and deployment of marine and hydrokinetic devices and components in both laboratory and open-water settings
  • Developing tools and models that support the design, development, and optimization of marine and hydrokinetic devices
  • Evaluating and assessing information on the cost and performance of marine and hydrokinetic device designs.

Learn more by visiting the program's Marine and Hydrokinetic Technology Development page.

International Standards

International Standards are technical specifications and documents written by experts from across the globe to describe best practices, based on industry experience, for how a device should be designed, built, and/or operated to be safe, compatible, and interoperable. For marine energy, standards exist or are being developed to characterize features such as power performance assessments and acoustic characterization, among others. International Standards are not mandatory unless they are adopted as part of a certification scheme, regulatory process, and/or are referenced as a prerequisite as part of a funding solicitation.

Learn more by visiting the program's Marine and Hydrokinetic International Standards page.

Resource Assessment and Characterization

The Water Power Program has released reports and maps that assess the resource potential of the nation's waves, tidal, ocean, and river currents, and ocean thermal gradients. Learn more about the resource assessment and characterization of the nation's marine and hydrokinetic resources.

Marine & Hydrokinetic News

National Labs Are Making Waves in Marine Energy Research and Development
Learn about National Lab projects as they harness the immense power of the waves and understand what lies beneath them.
June 29, 2020
Marine Energy Collegiate Competition 2021 Competition Opens for Applications in August
Today, the Energy Department's Water Power Technologies Office announced the 2021 Marine Energy Collegiate Competition will open in August.
June 23, 2020
World Oceans Day: Celebrating the Role and Promise Oceans Have in Our Everyday Lives
World Oceans Day is a global effort to celebrate the ocean's resources, while reminding us to protect it for future generations.
June 9, 2020
Energy Department Moves Marine Energy Collegiate Competition to Virtual Format
During the new virtual event, the 15 participating teams will showcase the deliverables they developed for the competition.
May 21, 2020