Annual Report 2017
Country Reports


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



The development of comprehensive testing infrastructure is a strategic imperative for the WPTO to successfully address sector challenges. Prototype testing is essential to drive down development costs, validate models, prove reliability, and demonstrate compliance with applicable design standards.

The majority of test sites in the United States are operated by one of the NMRECs (see R&D section), other sites across the country are operated by organizations such as the Center for Ocean Renewable Energy (CORE), the University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute (UNC-CSI), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative (MRECo) of New England.

There are twelve open water test sites that are operational, one under development, and one offshore wind site that can be used for wave energy testing. These sites can accommodate scaled prototypes to full-scale grid connected devices. An overview of each U.S. open water test site is below. More detailed information on many of these test sites can be found at the following website:

U.S. Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS): The U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), in conjunction with the University of Hawaii and HINMREC, operate this site. It is a near shore ocean wave energy test site located at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Oahu’s Kaneohe Bay. The offshore site consists of three test berths: two at 60 and 80 m depths for 100 kW to 1 MW wave energy converters, respectively, and another shallow water berth at 30-m rated for devices up to 250 kW. The berths include three-point moorings and power cable connections to the local grid.

OTEC Test Site: HINMREC also assists the private sector with advancing ocean thermal energy conversion systems towards commercialization. OTEC demonstrations and studies have been conducted at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i Authority (NELHA) facility at Keahole Point. The Center has teamed with engineering firm Makai Ocean Engineering to conduct long-term studies of corrosion and bio-corrosion of aluminum subjected to flowing seawater. This on-shore 105 kW test facility was constructed in 2011 and is still being operated by Makai Ocean Engineering.

PMEC – North Energy Test Site (NETS): This wave energy prototype test site is located approximately two nautical miles off the coast of Oregon. It has been operational since 2012 and WET-NZ was one of the first developers to utilize the site. The site can accommodate two WEC devices concurrently with outputs of up to 100 kW. This site uses the Ocean Sentinel test buoy for site and device monitoring and as an artificial electrical load for devices.

PMEC – Lake Washington Test Site: The Lake Washington Test Site is a freshwater, off-grid WEC test site suitable for prototype testing that became operational in 2012. The site is located near Seattle, WA in the northern portion of Lake Washington. The site is best suited for wave energy converter device testing. The water depth is approximately 51 m and the gently sloping bottom has a composition consisting mostly of soft mud. There are no permanent mooring systems installed and no grid-connection.

PMEC – Tanana River Test Site: The Tanana River Test Site is located near Fairbanks, AK on the Tanana River. The site can support a single floating platform located in mid-channel with an anchored mooring system rated to 50,000 pounds holding force. The average current speed in the river is 3 m/s and the site is suitable for testing from May--September of each year. Devices rated up to 10 kW are appropriate for this test site, but it is not grid connected.

PMEC – South Energy Test Site (SETS) (Under Development): The WPTO selected PMEC-SETS as the recipient of federal funding and awarded the project $35 million to design, permit, and construct the National Wave Energy Testing Facility off the coast of Newport, Oregon. In July 2017 WPTO and Oregon State University concluded detailed negotiations for the development and operation of the site. Following construction, PMEC-SETS will serve as the national test facility for evaluating full-scale WEC device performance, environmental interactions, and survivability. This site is planning to host a utility scale grid connection from shore out to four separate ocean test berths in 65-78 m water depths. It is anticipated that SETS will be permitted for testing of up to twenty WECs concurrently, which will be useful for array validation testing. The site is planning to be operational by 2021.

Camp Rilea Test Site: Camp Rilea is a military base maintained by the Oregon Army National Guard and serves as Training Center for the Armed Forces. The testing site is operated in coordination with PMEC. Camp Rilea is not an official test site, but developers have tested at this location in the past due to its wave climate and proximity to shore. This site is located approximately one nautical mile offshore in waters about 15 m deep and is suitable for testing of shallow and mid-depth wave energy converters. The site is well monitored with data buoys, but as of this writing there is no testing infrastructure available and the site is not pre-permitted.

Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) – Ocean Current Test Facility: SNMREC, operated by Florida Atlantic University, advances research in open-ocean current systems by building the capability, infrastructure, and strategic partnerships necessary to support technology developers on the path to commercialization. Offshore of Ft. Lauderdale, the SNMREC has small-scale test berths that are used for limited duration deployments of ocean current devices. A permanent mooring, supported by a surface buoy, is used to lower prototype devices into the Florida Current from a tender vessel. Developers can perform towed testing with a support vessel or component testing using a 3 m, 25-kW horizontal axis research turbine and in-water rotor-testing platform. Long-term deployments of prototypes can be considered on a case-by-case basis. Grid-connected, full-scale test berths are under development.

The Jennette’s Pier Wave Energy Test Facility: Jennette’s Pier is owned by the state of North Carolina and managed by the NC Aquarium Division. The University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute (UNC-CSI) began a partnership with Jennette’s Pier in 2004 to foster research, ocean energy device testing and monitoring, outreach, and education. Part of this partnership is the Jennette’s Pier Wave Energy Test Center. The site, located near Nags Head, North Carolina, has two shallow water test berth locations suitable for scaled prototype testing. One berth is at 6 m water depth and the other is at 11 m depth, approximately 600 m east of the pier. Moorings at the berths are temporary and power output from the berths is delivered to shore via the Jennette’s Pier, but there is no grid connection. Both test berths are permitted by the USACE.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility (FRF): The Field Research Facility is near the town of Duck, North Carolina (approximately 34 km northwest of the Jennette’s Pier test site). Central to the FRF is a 560 m long, steel-and-concrete research pier that extends to the 7 m water depth contour. FRF researches weather, waves, currents, tides, and beach change. The USACE FRF offers a wide range of technical and testing infrastructure support services for WEC developers. The site has small scale, shallow water wave energy resources, and can accommodate scaled devices. There are no grid connections at this site for exporting power, however grid-access is provided via a three-phase AC outlet.

Center for Ocean Renewable Energy (CORE) General Sullivan Tidal Energy Test Site: This tidal energy test site is located in New Hampshire at the General Sullivan Bridge (Little Bay Bridge) on the Lower Piscataqua River, which is a natural bottleneck. This site is considered a full-scale test site for vertical axis turbines, and can also be considered a “large-scale” test site (prototype scales of 1:3-1:5, or 12-21 m) for large diameter horizontal axis turbines. The tidal range at this area is approximately 2.5 m and peak currents of 4 knots (2 m/s) are typical. The water depth at the site is approximately 8 m. The site has a floating test platform available for use, which is of a pontoon-barge design.

CORE AMAC Wave Energy Test Site: The AMAC wave energy test site is located at the University of New Hampshire Atlantic Marine Aquaculture (AMAC) site which is six miles from the New Hampshire coast near Durham. It covers an area of 30 acres in water depths of approximately 52 m. This site is suitable for full scale device testing. The site has a subsurface mooring system and a large feed buoy is available as a platform and a potential end user load for any wave energy extraction device, but there is no grid connection. It is fully permitted by the USACE and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative (MRECo) Bourne Tidal Test Site (BTTS): BTTS is situated on the Cape Canal Railroad Bridge in Bourne, MA and was recently opened for testing at the end of 2017. Currents at this site can be upwards of 7 knots and the water flow has low turbulence and wave action. The site is close enough to shore such that cranes can be used to deploy and recover tidal devices, or alternatively serviced by a floating barge. The site can accommodate turbines up to 3 m in diameter with maximum power outputs of 100 kW.

UMaine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site: This test site located near Monhegan Island, about 12 miles off the coast of Maine, was created by the state legislature in 2009 and it is now one of the most extensively studied sites in the Gulf of Maine. The test site is primarily focused on the testing of offshore wind turbines, however it does allow for wave energy testing as well. The site is limited to two wave energy converters and a single subsea utility line with a maximum capacity of 25 megawatts. This site is operated by the University of Maine and has undergone multiple studies to characterize its baseline physical and ecological environments.



Fred Olsen: The BOLT Lifesaver, a point-absorber device, completed a one-year demonstration project at the Navy’s WETS in Hawaii in April 2017. The device utilizes five power take-off units, each rated for a capacity of 10 kW.

Over the length of the project, the device generated 22,364 kWh, with an average output of 3.2 kW, and the largest continuous power export lasting 200 days. This project provided excellent data on device reliability and performance, and also exposed areas for improvement in structures and materials for a more robust design.



Ocean Energy USA: The OE Buoy, an oscillating water column design, is slotted for half-scale device testing in the later-half of 2018 at the Wave Energy Test Site in Hawaii. The deployment will last approximately one year and will provide useful performance data for model validations, reliability performance, and opportunities for cost reductions.

Columbia Power Technologies (CPT): CPT is planning to test a one-third scale system of their StingRAY wave energy converter device at the Wave Energy Test Site in Hawaii in the later-half of 2018. As a precursor to this open water testing, CPT conducted testing on the StingRAY’s drive train at the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) using their state-of-the-art dynamometer in 2016 and 2017.

This deployment will provide valuable reliability data as well as indicate opportunities for design improvements and optimization.

Northwest Energy Innovations (NWEI): NWEI’s Azura™ is a multimode, point absorber WEC that extracts power from both the heave and surge motions of waves to maximize energy capture. NWEI has previously tested their technology in Oregon in 2012, and a half-scale device was tested with 98% availability for 19 months beginning in June 2015 at the 30 m berth at WETS.

NWEI is currently developing a full scale Azura™ to be tested at the U.S. Navy’s WETS in Hawaii. The proposed testing will allow to determine the energy capture matrix of a full scale device, resulting in a more accurate assessment of LCOE.

Verdant Power: Verdant’s Fifth Generation Kinetic Hydropower System (Gen5 KHPS) is an axial flow current-capturing turbine system. Verdant and its partners are working on the design of a TriFrame (TF) that optimizes turbine spacing and structural requirements to allow for cost-effective installation, O&M, and retrieval.

Verdant plans to test this new system along with their Gen5 KHPS at their pilot project site in the East River near New York City.

This project will advance our understanding of optimal turbine spacing and best practices for installation, maintenance, and retrieval of underwater turbines.