Project Profile: Wave Energy Converter Modeling Project

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Sandia's SWEPT Lab equipment.
The interior of the Sandia Wave Energy Power Take-Off (SWEPT) Lab.

Project Summary

To promote and support the wave energy industry, the U.S. Department of Energy has funded Sandia National Laboratories to develop Advanced Wave Energy Converters (WEC) Dynamics and Controls. The objective is to design WECs that absorb and produce power efficiently across a broad range of frequencies. Existing wave energy converter (WEC) designs only produce power efficiently over a narrow band of the full wave frequency spectrum.

Project TitleAdvanced Wave Energy Converters (WEC) Dynamics and Controls
AwardeeSandia National Laboratories
Awardee HQ LocationNew Mexico
DOE Funding Amount$4,400,554.01
Program AreaAnalysis and Standards
Recipient TypeLaboratory
Award TypeAnnual Operating Plan
Year Awarded2015
Work LocationsMaryland, New Mexico
Congressional District(s)MD-X, NM-1
Project PartnersU.S. Navy’s Maneuvering and Seakeeping Basin at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Carderock
Project LibraryAdvanced WEC Dynamics and Controls
Fact SheetSandia Water Power Technologies Capabilities


Sandia is developing and validating control strategies to increase the power of WEC devices, to create opportunities to commercialize large-scale wave energy plants, and for use in a diverse assortment of distributed applications, including remote communities, military facilities, and commercial enterprises. To make the difficult leap from theoretical studies to deployable WEC hardware, Sandia is performing research on control algorithm development, numerical simulation, and scaled model testing.


The Advanced WEC Dynamics and Controls project is designed to address six top-level objectives:

  1. Use numerical modeling and novel laboratory testing methods to quantitatively compare a variety of control strategies: advanced system identification methods for richer results (better numerical models and better controls).
  2. Produce data, analysis and methodology that assist developers in selecting and designing the best control system for their device: provide developers with the information needed to make informed decisions about their specific strategy on PTO control.
  3. Use numerical modeling and testing to determine the degree to which developed control strategies are device-agnostic: broadly applicable quantitative results, methods and best practices applicable to a wide range of devices.
  4. Develop strategies to reduce loads, address fatigue, and to handle extreme conditions: reduce loads and high-frequency vibration in both operational and extreme conditions.
  5. Full wave-to-wire control: absorption, generation, power-electronics and transmission considered in control design.
  6. Develop novel control strategies and design methodologies: leverage Sandia’s control expertise from aerospace, defense and robotics to develop novel WEC control app.

Project Video

Advances in WEC Dynamics and Controls

Project Presentation

Advanced WEC Controls