Annual Report 2017
Country Reports


Steven Bushong, Alison LaBonte and Ann Dallman U.S. Department of Energy


There are numerous universities, private companies, organizations, non-profits, and national labs that actively support research on marine renewable energy in the United States. Collectively, these institutions represent approximately 40 unique testing facilities for marine energy research. To foster marine renewable energy technology research, education and outreach, the WPTO has partnered with five universities to operate three National Marine Renewable Energy Centers (NMRECs). These NMRECs are:

  • Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC): The NNMREC is a partnership between three universities in the Pacific Northwest: University of Washington, Oregon State University, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC) coordinates access to test facilities at the three universities and develops new, open-water test sites in the region (see Open Sea Test Sites section).
  • Hawaii National Marine Renewable Energy Center (HINMREC): HINMREC is operated by the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii: Manoa. Its primary objective is to facilitate the development and implementation of commercial wave energy systems. HINMREC helps with the management of two test sites in Hawaii, WETS and the OTEC Test Site (see Open Sea Test Sites section).
  • Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC): SNMREC is operated by the Florida Atlantic University. Although SNMREC has research interests in all marine renewables, it places an emphasis on those resources available to the southeastern US: ocean currents and offshore thermal energy conversion.

The DOE’s national laboratories possess unique instruments and facilities capable of addressing large-scale, complex R&D challenges with research expertise and an approach emphasizing translating basic science to innovation. The WPTO partners with several of these laboratories to support R&D in marine renewable energy, examples of their research efforts are below:

  • Sandia National Laboratories (SNL): SNL conducts research on advanced controls, simulation of marine renewable energy environmental impacts, advanced materials for coatings and construction, testing and simulation of technologies, and resource characterization.
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL): NREL’s water power program conducts research on energy markets, grid integration, resource characterization and mapping, design and simulation, technology evaluation and validation, as well as performing full scale validation tests on systems and components.
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL): PNNL conducts research on environmental impacts, resource characterization and modelling, advanced materials and manufacturing, monitoring techniques and data gathering, and education outreach. PNNL is also responsible for implementing Annex IV under OES on behalf of the WPTO.
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL): ORNL conducts research on environmental impacts of instream technology, advanced materials for coatings and construction, design for manufacturing, and assessment of stream resources.



In summer 2017, ABB along with partners at Texas A&M’s Advanced Electrical Machines Lab and Resolute Marine Energy developed and tested an integrated magnetic-gear generator. This innovative design has advanced the state-of-the-art for power take-off systems for wave energy converters. The test results of the 10-kW prototype indicated the generator could be ideal for low-speed, high-torque applications like wave energy, or even tidal and wind. The prototype was part of a DOE-funded project to research novel direct-drive generators that could eliminate hydraulic components in some wave energy power take-off systems.

In May 2017, NREL completed deployment of two buoys with high-accuracy sensors to record wave and tide movement off the coasts of Oregon and Maine, areas known to be potential hot spots for marine energy development. The work is part of larger project funded by DOE, in concert with SNL and the PNNL, to analyze wave and tidal energy sites with great potential for development and gather data to validate the computer modeling tools that industry uses to design devices.

In June 2017, Ocean Renewable Power Company completed full-scale testing of a specialized bearing system and associated driveline components. The research was funded by WPTO and was completed in collaboration with the University of Maine. This is the first phase of the project, future phases will center on development of a more robust electrical generator to reduce failure rates.

In August 2017, SNL, in conjunction with the U.S. Navy, tested advanced controls on a WEC at the Navy’s Maneuvering and Seakeeping (MASK) Basin in Bethesda, Maryland. This testing will support the Lab in control algorithm development, numerical simulation, and future model testing to increase the power output of WEC devices. The Navy’s MASK Basin, used in the finals of the Wave Energy Prize, has a state-of-the-art wave maker that is capable of making precise waves for hours. This allows researchers to quickly test the converter’s control systems under numerous wave conditions and see the response.

In 2017, NNMREC conducted several laboratory experiments with cross-flow turbines and simulations of wave energy converters which highlighted the potential for elevated power generation from dense array configurations, particularly when machine learning is used to coordinate control strategies across the array. Also in 2017, Environmental researchers at NNMREC achieved automatic detection and classification of marine animals using an integrated instrumentation system and advanced standardized approaches for characterizing biological environments at wave and current energy sites. Core research outcomes also included direct measurements of extreme wave conditions, methods to model and mitigate debris interactions, and robotic autonomy from inspection and maintenance activities. In aggregate, this research adds to the growing suite of innovative tools and capabilities that can reduce
the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of marine renewable energy.

The WPTO is a supporting body of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Technical Committee (TC) 114. The IEC TC 114, through the collaboration of 26 member countries, is developing standards that will define the international requirements for all ocean energy devices in the future, helping with certification and commercialization of devices. In 2017 the U.S. TAG held its annual meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, the focus of which was to discuss the status on the committee’s specifications. More information can be found at: