Annual Report 2018
Country Reports


David Hume and Ann Dallman U.S. Department of Energy


There are numerous universities, private companies, organizations, non-profits, and national laboratories 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, WPTO has partnered with five universities to operate three National Marine Renewable Energy Centers (NMRECs). These NMRECs are:
  • Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC): Formerly known as the Northwest National Marine Energy Center, PMEC is a partnership between three universities in the Pacific Northwest: University of Washington, Oregon State University, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The organization coordinates access to marine energy test facilities across the region and works with stakeholders to address key challenges slowing the adoption of marine energy.
  • 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 South Eastern United States: ocean currents and offshore thermal energy conversion.
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. WPTO partners with several of these laboratories to support R&D in marine renewable energy, examples of research efforts include: 
  • 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 modeling, 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 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 June 2018, WPTO announced six awardees selected to receive a total of $6.7 million in federal funding. The Igiugig Village Council (IVC) in Alaska, in partnership with the Ocean Renewable Power Company, was selected to receive $2.3 million to further design, construct, and test the RivGen cross-flow river current turbine system. Awardees for the other five projects to receive funding include: Resolute Marine Energy, Oscilla Power, Inc., Enorasy, and the University of Alaska - Fairbanks.

  • During 2018, Ocean Power Technologies brought to market a new suite of products—including a subsea battery energy storage system and a hybrid model of their wave energy converter (WEC), the PowerBuoy. Also in 2018, Ocean Power Technologies signed an agreement with Enel Green Power to evaluate deploying a PowerBuoy system along the coast of Chile.
  • In January 2018, Ocean Energy USA (OE) announced that it will construct its 1 MW oscillating water column device at Vigor Shipyard in Oregon. This project is jointly funded by WPTO and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and demonstrates the value of international collaboration. The OE Buoy is currently under construction at the shipyard and once complete will be towed to the U.S. Navy’s WETS in Hawaii for testing.
  • The ocean energy research team at NREL applied their broad expertise in ocean engineering, structural dynamics, fluid mechanics, and control systems to conceive an innovative wave converter concept that could control loads in highly energetic seas while maintaining power production. This new variable geometry wave converter concept was recently awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent Office, No. 10066595 B2. The concept is illustrated in the figure below. Soon, the NREL team will be working with WEC developers in the United States to explore approaches for applying variable geometry concepts to industry designs to improve performance and lower the cost of energy.
  • In May 2018, SNL completed wave tank testing at the Navy’s Maneuvering and Sea Keeping (MASK) basin to investigate the implementation and performance of a series of closed-loop WEC power take-off (PTO) controllers. The latest project results were presented in July 2018 at the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E)-hosted workshop, “Control Co-Design for Wind and Marine Hydro-Kinetic Energy Systems.”  SNL’s work in advanced WEC dynamics and controls demonstrates the opportunity for substantial reductions in the levelized cost of energy helping to increase competitiveness of these devices.   
  • From April through July of 2018, WPTO collected public comments on its draft report, Potential Maritime Markets for Marine and Hydrokinetic Technologies. The report details the economic and technical landscapes of 14 different non-grid markets for marine energy technologies. These markets include applications such as ocean observation, unmanned underwater vehicles recharging, offshore aquaculture, seawater desalination, or coastal disaster relief. The draft report received over 400 unique comments, and a final report that includes this feedback will be released in 2019. 
  • 86782-pnnl.jpg
    A research group from Integral Consulting, Inc. working in coordination with PNNL, performed a sequence of tests using a new sensor package, NoiseSpotter, which is designed to record sound generated by marine renewable energy devices. This will provide important information related to the potential environmental effects on marine animals of sound generation from these devices.

    This work is part of the Triton Initiative, which supports the development of advanced and cost-effective environmental monitoring technologies for marine renewable energy applications.

    For more information visit:

  • WPTO is a supporting body of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Technical Committee (TC) 114. The IEC TC 114—which comprises more than 190 subject matter experts representing 27 countries—has published 10 technical specifications as of 2018 and expects to publish an additional 4 technical specifications in 2019. More information can be found at: