Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy Research & Development

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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

WPTO at Waterpower Week in Washington 2018
Join WPTO and the national laboratories at Waterpower Week in Washington.
April 20, 2018
Water Power Projects Selected for Research and Development Grant
DOE announced it will award 263 research and development grants totaling $116 million to 184 small businesses in 41 states.
June 21, 2017
Overcoming a Major Wave Energy Challenge

The 10-kW prototype of ABB’s magnetically geared generator—illustrated above—was tested at ABB’s Corporate Research lab in Raleigh, North Carolina....

June 1, 2017
Projects Aim to Cut Operations Costs for Marine and Hydrokinetic Energy

A key goal of the Water Power Technologies Office is driving down the cost of energy from marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) energy devices. Improving...

May 30, 2017