Country Reports

With more than 50 percent of the U.S. population living within 50 miles of coastlines, marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) energy technologies provide America an opportunity to develop an untapped domestic energy resource. The U.S. Department of Energy’s investments in MHK energy technology seek to advance an energy technology complementary to the nation’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, while also encouraging domestic manufacturing, job creation, and seaport revitalization.

U.S. MHK resource assessments identify a technical resource potential of up to 1,250 to 1,850 terawatt-hours (TWh) of generation per year. For context, approximately 90,000 homes can be powered by one TWh of electricity generation each year. A domestic MHK energy industry could provide reliable power to coastal regions, especially in areas with high electricity costs. In 2016, the American MHK sector made significant investments and efforts toward realizing commercial MHK energy technology, including the announcement of plans for a full-scale, grid-connected national wave energy test facility, the demonstration of a five-fold increase in wave energy capture potential with the culmination of the Wave Energy Prize, and numerous advances in technology maturity and reducing deployment barriers.



In 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office’s MHK Program made significant efforts to gather stakeholder feedback and draft a National Strategy for Marine and Hydrokinetics. The draft strategy offers a vision, mission statement and strategic goals, which outline the MHK Program’s role in helping to realize the vision. Each component is shared below.

Draft MHK Program Vision: A U.S. Marine and Hydrokinetic industry that expands and diversifies the nation’s renewable energy portfolio by responsibly delivering energy from ocean and river resources Draft MHK Program Mission: Support the development of safe, reliable, and cost-competitive MHK technologies and reduce deployment barriers

Draft Strategic Goals:

  • Reduce the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) by 80% compared to the 2015 baseline LCOE values for wave (0.84 $/kW-h) and current (0.58 $/kW) technologies by 2030
  • Enable the industry to rapidly increase MHK technology deployments by supporting research and stakeholder outreach activities to reduce deployment barriers and to accelerate project permitting processes

Key challenges in realizing these goals were identified, as well as approaches the Program can take to address those challenges. Broadly, the challenges and their respective approaches fall into three categories, as outlined below:


An overview of draft MHK Program research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) phases to address challenges to meet the strategic goals follows. Note: These proposed RD&D phases are intended to summarize major objectives, and they do not represent all activities that would be planned/undertaken in these phases:

  • Phase I (~2009-~2015) [Complete]: Complete critical foundational work to determine existing technology costs and performance, R&D needs, resource opportunities and deployment barriers
  • Phase II (~2015-~2020) [Ongoing]: Aggressive technology innovation and demonstration of marine and hydrokinetic systems for multiple resource and market applications
  • Phase III (~2020-~2025): Implement array-scale innovations and technologies with pilot-scale array demonstration projects
  • Phase IV (~2025-~2030): Prove the commercial viability of marine and hydrokinetic technologies by supporting longterm utility-scale array demonstrations

A full description of all the challenges and targeted, phased approaches are available in a draft of the strategy that is currently open to public comment. The document can be accessed at Public comments will be accepted through February 28, 2017.

To facilitate work realizing this vision, the Program supports a strong RD&D project portfolio. The Program also leverages capabilities at DOE national laboratories to spur innovation in promising research areas, identify cost-reduction pathways, and build coordinated partnerships with other government agencies, including the military, that are breaking new ground for the industry.


Possible progression through planned RD&D phases


The MHK incentives offered in the United States are the Federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The section 45 PTC provides a tax credit of 1.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for MHK technologies. The credit was extended through December 31, 2016, for projects that are at least 150 kW in nameplate capacity.

MHK facilities that began construction prior to January 1, 2017, can elect to take the section 48 ITC in lieu of the PTC. The ITC lets MHK projects opt for a tax credit equal to 30% of capital expenditures in lieu of the PTC. No new projects will be eligible for federal tax incentives unless Congress adopts a tax credit extension in 2017.

At the state level, MHK technologies are an eligible energy resource under numerous states’ renewable portfolio standards and voluntary renewable energy goals. MHK technologies also benefit from state funding opportunities, such as the Alaska Energy Authority’s Emerging Technology Fund and Renewable Energy Fund and the Oregon Wave Energy Trust.


Department of Energy Water Power Technologies Office Marine and Hydrokinetic Program:
Because MHK energy is an early stage market with limited incentives for investment, the Program has a clear role in expediting the development and demonstration of innovative MHK technologies. The Program makes investments that support key technology innovations, mitigate risks, and assist the private sector in creating a robust U.S. MHK industry by providing funding and technical assistance. Specifically, the Program focuses on supporting RD&D to reduce the cost of MHK technology and reduce deployment barriers:

  • Reducing cost: Help develop and demonstrate MHK systems for early adopter markets (i.e. high cost, remote, or non-electric) to prove technologies and gain operational experience. Simultaneously, support the development of innovative technologies to achieve cost reductions that are necessary to enter the utility scale electricity markets (i.e. lower cost markets)
  • Reducing deployment barriers: Support RD&D projects that proactively address important deployment barriers for the first generation of MHK projects, and over time increasingly focus on addressing barriers for utility-scale electricity markets

Given the high costs for early stage MHK technologies today, the Program intends to devote the majority of its effort toward supporting technology cost-reduction activities from now until 2030. Activities to identify and address deployment barriers (related to manufacturing supply-chain, port and shipping infrastructure, workforce, and siting/permitting issues) are also a critical secondary priority, and efforts focusing on these issues will increase as cost-reduction goals are achieved and deployment rates increase.

The Program’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 annual budget for MHK RD&D was funded at $44.3 million—a 7% increase from FY 2015. Most of the funding in FY 2016 was directed toward technology advancement and demonstration.

Through competitive funding solicitations, or Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs), the Program identifies and funds qualified projects within specific topic areas and subtopics that support program objectives, depending on available funds. In evaluating all proposals for new energy developments or new adaptations of existing technology, the

Program rigorously assesses whether individual applications clearly demonstrate that the proposed advances can reasonably lead to a reduction in the total cost of energy produced when compared to other energy technologies.

In FY 2016, the Program allocated $27.3 million of the $44.3 million to new FOAs for MHK research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) projects addressing key technical and market barriers to commercial deployment in the United States. Together, these projects will increase the power production and reliability of MHK devices and help gather valuable data on how deployed devices interact with the surrounding environment. The Program made the following awards to a variety of recipient types, including private industry and universities:

  • MHK Energy Conversion and Environmental Monitoring Technology Advancement: In August 2016, 10 organizations were selected to receive more than $20 million for new research, development, and demonstration projects that advance and monitor MHK energy systems. Three demonstration projects will integrate next-generation MHK hardware and software technologies into system designs. Their effectiveness will be tested during full-scale, open-water deployments over one year. The projects selected that focused on environment will help reduce the time and cost associated with required environmental monitoring.
  • Wave Energy Test Facility: In December 2016, up to $40 million, subject to appropriations, was awarded to design, permit, and construct an open-water, grid-connected national wave energy testing facility. The facility will be developed in Newport, Oregon, by the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Oregon State University.

Other FY 2016 funding supported National Laboratory R&D (see research and development section below), Small Business Innovation Research Grants, Small Business Vouchers, and other Program operations.

Department of the Navy
The Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC) continues to actively support the research and development of various renewable energy conversion technologies. NAVFAC EXWC’s present funding efforts focus on advancing technology development to harness MHK resources to ensure energy security and for powering U.S. Navy and Marine Corps assets both on- and off-shore. With FY16 funding of $12 million, ongoing support for wave, tidal, and current energy converter device development and testing will serve to meet the power capture needs of naval facilities in areas characterized by a full range of wave and current resource availability. System reliability, serviceability, and energy capture level improvements may bolster the availability of as-yet-untapped MHK energy that may either act as a supplement to more conventional fuel sources or serve to solely power particular systems. Funds were allocated for the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site in Hawaii and the University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and MHK development efforts at the University of Washington, Applied Physics Laboratory.


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 Program partners with several of these important institutions to support R&D in MHK technologies.

Sandia National Laboratories (SNL): Through partnerships with several national laboratories and academic institutions, SNL is leading efforts in technology development, market acceleration, and reference model developments. SNL contributes to MHK technology in the following areas:

  • Advanced non-linear controls, system identification and wave tank testing, open source code development, device and array optimization, and operational and extreme events simulation
  • Design, analysis, and testing of hydrokinetic turbines; including application of novel measurement techniques (e.g., fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors for high-fidelity load measurements)
  • Advanced materials development, such as novel coatings and composites
  • Ocean wave modeling, resource assessment and characterization, and classification
  • Measurement and modelling of tidal and river current flows
  • Wave and tidal energy modelling to predict environmental effects of energy removal and inform optimal device spacing
  • Modelling tools for MHK environmental impacts, such as mammal strike impact and acoustic generation and propagation

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL): NREL’s water power program leverages 35 years of experience developing renewable energy systems to research, evaluate, validate, optimize, and demonstrate innovative water power technologies. NREL conducts and supports research and development on MHK technologies in a wide range of areas, including:

  • Design and Simulation—Application of renewable energy system experience to MHK technology development and open-source tool development
  • Technology Validation and Optimization—Assessment of MHK systems and components performance and reliability in lab and open-water environments
  • Resource Characterization and Maps—Measurement systems and simulation and visualization tools that accelerate MHK engineering and project development nergy and Market Analysis—Cost models and tools to evaluate the economic potential and impacts of MHK technologies and projects
  • Grid Integration—Assess impacts and value of MHK generation on power systems, from small distribution systems to high-penetration interconnection

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL): PNNL supports the Program through research, engineering, information aggregation and dissemination, resource assessment, characterization, and forecasting. The laboratory also participates in market analysis, planning, and coordination to overcome barriers for water power. PNNL operates the only facility dedicated to coastal sciences in the national laboratory system. Its unique Marine Sciences Laboratory is located on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. PNNL’s specific efforts include:

  • MHK environmental impacts research, international outreach, engagement, collaboration, and information sharing
  • Tidal and current model development and validation
  • MHK technology advancement through advanced materials and manufacturing reliability
  • Wave resource assessment and characterization
  • Monitoring tools, mitigation technologies, and methodologies
  • Education outreach and information sharing
  • Implement Annex IV under OES on behalf of the Program

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL): ORNL conducts research in support of the MHK Program’s mission, including:

  • Assessing the environmental effects of instream technology
  • Advanced materials
  • Manufacturing for cost reduction and design flexibility in water power technology
  • Assessment of stream resources amenable to low-cost, low-impact development

In 2016, the Program supported a variety of activities to enable technology breakthroughs that “float all boats,” benefitting numerous industry participants or having broad public benefits. Among its activities, the office supported initial device demonstrations to prove efficiency, reliability, and commercial viability and developed strategic partnerships to leverage and focus resources (i.e. military, international organizations, private industry). R&D activity generally falls into one of four categories: technology maturity, deployment barriers, market development, and cross-cutting approaches.

Below are select R&D highlights from each category that occurred in 2016:

Wave Energy Prize: In November, the Program announced AquaHarmonics as the winner of the Wave Energy Prize, demonstrating a five-fold improvement in WEC energy capture per characteristic cost, an achievement earning the team a $1.5 million grand prize. An 18-month design-build-test competition, the Wave Energy Prize focused on catalyzing the development of game-changing WECs that will ultimately reduce the cost of wave energy.

Teams worked toward the ambitious yet achievable goal of doubling the efficiency of WEC devices over the stateof-the-art technology prior to the launch of the prize.

CalWave Power Technologies and Waveswing America were awarded second and third place, respectively, with $500,000 and $250,000 in cash prizes.


The Wave Energy Prize was a catalyst for a technology leap, and the innovations accrued during the competition will drive down the cost of wave energy and help the sector achieve commercialization faster. Multiple technical innovations in the areas of controls, geometry, and survival strategies have resulted from the Prize. Some examples include adaptive sea state-to-sea state control; wave-to-wave control; power absorption in multiple degrees of freedom; optimized float shapes for energy absorption from a broad bandwidth of wave frequencies; survival strategies, such as submerging beneath the surface during extreme storms. But it’s important to note that all the benefits of the Wave Energy Prize have yet to be realized. The technical advances made during this Prize competition will help developers accelerate the iterative learning process they face on the path toward commercialization. It is also the Program’s hope that communities formed among investors, marine energy and engineering experts, and onlookers will accelerate the technical and financial capacity of developers. In addition, data from Prize testing will become publically accessible in November 2017—letting current and future technology developers benefit from the data collected in the Prize.

MHK Generator Technology Testing: In 2013, three entities were awarded $8 million to develop and demonstrate next-generation Power Take-Off (PTO) systems for MHK applications under the System Performance Advancement effort. In 2016, ABB, Inc., successfully built and tested one of the world’s largest magnetically geared generators for direct-drive applications. The generator has been designed for low-speed, high-torque operation and provides increased reliability, overload operation and protection, controllability for peak power, and torque limiting. ABB partnered with Resolute Marine Energy to support the design and integration of the next generation PTO into Resolute’s oscillating wave surge converter system.

Columbia Power Technologies, Inc., (CPwr) has completed design and fabrication of a novel, commercial-scale, direct-drive generator with a novel air gap control system for wave energy converter devices. The PTO employs modular permanent magnet generator components with advanced power electronics to simplify transportability, operations and maintenance, and improve energy capture and reliability. These attributes are enabled by the following innovations:

  • A flexible, non-rigid and low-cost generator frame as compared to conventional machines
  • Reduction of rotor-stator air-gap to 4mm and consequently lower-cost electromagnetic design
  • The ability to reduce the StingRAY’s cost-of-energy by increasing generator diameter to much larger dimensions, while maintaining a small air gap


The PTO project aims to validate defined performance targets for this critical technology element. A successful demonstration of the 6.5m diameter permanent-magnet generator is expected to confirm the ability to further reduce cost of energy through air-gap reduction to 2mm or less on future systems. CPwr has commenced dry testing of the commercial- scale PTO on the 5-MW dynamometer at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center (NWTC), leveraging decades of wind industry research and development experience, and will be completed in early 2017.

Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) has completed trade studies for submersible generator designs and novel bearing concepts for integration with MHK systems. Generator trade studies have evaluated switched reluctance generator concepts against permanent magnet designs, and bearings development has focused on significantly reducing losses from driveline friction in tidal applications. ORPC has employed Rolls Royce Marine to fabricate a permanent magnet generator that allows for modular integration of ORPC’s bearing concept. Testing will be completed in 2017 on a section of the TidGen® driveline to demonstrate PTO performance improvements.

Advanced Design Tools: In 2016, the Program and national laboratories performed research with the objective of improving performance, reliability, and survivability, while lowering the cost of energy. NREL and SNL worked on the following projects in 2016 to provide open-source simulation tools, develop extreme condition design methodologies, and advance control strategies:

  • The Wave Energy Converter Simulator project continued development of an open-source design and analysis code (WEC-Sim) and performed experimental wave tank tests to develop validation data sets. Code development is continuing in 2017 and data sets will be made publically available.
  • NREL and SNL developed a methodology for modelling WECs in extreme conditions that combines mid- and high-fidelity simulation methods to efficiently simulate and analyze the performance of WECs in extreme and survivability conditions. The WEC Design Response Toolbox (WDRT) was created to provide developers with some of the tools needed to implement this methodology. WDRT is publically accessible for download at http://
  • SNL and NREL worked to advance WEC control strategies through two projects:
    - SNL completed extensive wave tank testing using advanced system identification methodologies. The models developed from this work will serve to improve the performance of future control strategies. Data from the wave tank testing is available on the MHK Data Repository (
    - NREL explored the feasibility of using advanced control strategies in conjunction with “active geometry” WECs that have the ability to change their geometry with changing wave conditions.

NNMREC’s Advanced Laboratory and Field Arrays Project (ALFA): NNMREC is a multi-institution entity with a diverse funding base focused on R&D for marine renewables. The ALFA project conducted by NNMREC works to reduce the LCOE of MHK energy by leveraging research, development, and testing capabilities at Oregon State University, University of Washington, and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. ALFA will accelerate the development of next-generation arrays of WEC and tidal energy conversion devices through a suite of lab- and field-focused R&D activities spanning a three-year performance period.  These tasks include:

  • Debris modelling, detection, and mitigation
  •  Autonomous monitoring and intervention
  • Resource assessment and characterization for extreme conditions
  • Robust models for design of offshore anchoring and mooring systems
  • Performance enhancement for marine energy converter arrays
  • Sampling technique evaluations for MHK biological monitoring

NNMREC’s ALFA project is also developing a low cost semi-autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to assist with maintenance of MHK devices. The AUV will be capable of performing inspection, monitoring, and intervention, and it will have a lower cost than existing remotely operated underwater vehicles. In 2016, the second year of the ALFA project, NNMREC demonstrated the navigation station-keeping capabilities of the AUV in several ocean trials with low errors in mean position and heading (direction). In the third year of the ALFA project, autonomous mapping and intervention operations will be tested.

Metrics development: Well-developed, universal economic performance metrics let investors more confidently focus on promising technologies. The predominant metric for energy technologies at commercial scale is the levelized cost of energy (LCOE). But because LCOE estimation for devices at low technology readiness level (TRL) is prone to high uncertainties, it is important to identify other techno-economic performance metrics that are more suitable for the early stages of technology development. As such, technology performance levels (TPLs) have been introduced and refined as a techno-economic performance assessment metric for WEC technologies. Even at low TRLs, the TPL assessment is effective as it considers a wide range of WEC attributes that define the techno-economic performance potential when developed to higher TRL, and it highlights potential showstoppers at the earliest possible stage of WEC technology development. The TPL assessment methodology was revised in 2016 through a consistent application of the systems engineering approach. This approach led to the identification of a full set of stakeholder requirements and necessary WEC functions. The stakeholder requirements directly led to the assessment criteria for the updated TPL metric. For more information, visit


Environmental R&D: In 2016, the Program awarded seven new projects a total of $5.49 million to improve the technical performance and reduce costs associated with existing environmental monitoring technologies for use around MHK devices. These technologies are focused on monitoring marine organism interactions, noise produced by MHK devices, electromagnetic fields produced by subsea cables and MHK devices, benthic habitat monitoring and mapping, and the refinement of integrated instrumentation packages to monitor MHK devices more effectively.

Also in 2016, a number of existing projects made excellent progress. Five projects to develop new environmental monitoring technologies focused on the detection and classification of marine animals in the vicinity of MHK devices, mea surement of noise produced by devices, automation of optical data processing, and the development of integrated instrumentation packages. Many projects performed prototype tests in tank settings and extended field trials, demonstrating the technical capabilities of the monitoring instruments. The Program had awarded $2.75 million in 2014 to support these projects.

Nine projects that focused on advancing the understanding of potential environmental effects from the deployment and operation of MHK devices either completely finished or are in the process of finishing. The projects included researching device-generated noise and its subsequent effects on marine megafauna, understanding interactions between fish and tidal turbines, developing and using models to predict strike occurrence, and assessing the potential effects electromagnetic fields may have on marine species. The Program awarded $2.4 million in 2013 to support these projects. The final reports from these projects will be made publically available on the Tethys database ( once they are complete.


Market Analysis Efforts: In 2017, the Program will research the viability of non-utility scale electricity generation end uses and alternative markets or value streams, such as reverse osmosis desalinization for coastal urban water supply, micro-grids, forward operating military applications, remote islands, ocean and weather observation systems, shoreline protection and resilience applications, aquaculture, and data centers. This new effort builds off FY16 research into WEC-powered RO desalinization systems, which has yielded important metrics to focus future R&D activities, developed computational modules for design simulation, and produced an initial techno-economic assessment to understand market potential. By assessing early adopter markets of high value for MHK, their unique scale, and synergies with utility-scale generation, the Program’s 2017 market study will identify the most competitive cost-of-energy markets for MHK. By the end of the year, a report will be developed outlining the most salient non-electric and off-grid electric market opportunities, the estimated market sizes, and the practicality of deploying existing technologies.


Resource Model Refinement and Wave Classification: In 2016, the Program identified and published a list of locations where tidal and wave resources match electricity loads, as well as where local economics would be conducive to marine power. With that intelligence, the Program modelled wave and tidal regional sites along U.S. coasts. A wave classification scheme is also being developed using this information. The scheme uses peer-reviewed information to identify which variables are most important in making classifications. Throughout 2017, the Program will collect data from various wave and tidal sites to verify and validate models, modelling efforts, and the wave classification scheme, as well as adjust it when necessary. Feedback from the Marine Energy Council concerning tidal assessments have been heeded, and funding has been allocated to review the Program’s analysis. In addition, other modelling efforts continue with high resolution grids for wave and tidal areas of interest, which will be added to the MHK Atlas (

MHK Data Repository (MHKDR): Working with NREL, the Program launched the MHKDR website in March 2015. The repository houses all data collected using Program funds and serves as a data-sharing platform to help store and disseminate open-source data relevant to the design and development of marine energy technologies. Since then, 10 content models have been developed to help structure the data submitted to the MHKDDR, and more than 100 submissions from DOE-sponsored projects have been uploaded. The project data (subject to moratorium) is now accessible to the public and indexed on national search engines, such as, resulting in thousands of downloads from users across the world. Transparency and open data are important to accelerate technology development and to avoid funding the same technology evolution by several different companies. It also helps to attract new players from related offshore and engineering sectors. The MHKDR provides an easy method for uploading data in a secure environment to help with the reporting requirements of national labs and industry awardees. Awardees who received U.S. public funding through financial assistance mechanisms are able to keep their data proprietary up to five years, after which it is to be made available to the public.


The development of comprehensive testing infrastructure is a strategic imperative for the Program to successfully address sector challenges, as outlined in the draft strategy. Test facilities offer diverse testing services addressing technical and nontechnical barriers of MHK commercialization. Prototype testing is essential to advance existing MHK technologies, validate performance against analytic models, and demonstrate compliance with applicable design standards.

Testing mitigates the technical and financial risk of developing and deploying MHK energy devices, plants, technologies, and related products. By supporting the development of testing infrastructure, the Program ensures that many more prototypes from a diverse set of technology developers can be tested than if each technology developer had to carry the cost burden of developing, permitting, and installing its own test facility. As a result, promising technologies that could have failed due to insufficient funds have a chance to succeed.

Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS): The U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command operates an ocean wave energy test site facility located at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Oahu’s Kaneohe Bay. The facility includes infrastructure to support offshore testing of a point absorber or oscillating water column device with up to a three-point mooring configuration.

In 2015, construction was completed of two additional grid-connected test berths at 60-meter and 80-meter depths for 100 kW to 1 MW wave energy converters (WECs). The Navy also operates a grid-connected test berth at a depth of 30 meters. Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC) – Wave and Current Test Facilities: Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC) is the marine energy converter testing facilities arm of the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC).

Just as the European Marine Energy Center has a variety of sites based on scale and technology, PMEC offers a range of test facility types. For wave energy testing, PMEC supports two operational test sites: the North Energy Test Site (NETS) off the coast of Newport, Oregon, and Lake Washington in Seattle, Washington. NETS has a mobile Ocean Sentinel test buoy that facilitates open-ocean, stand-alone testing of WEC devices with average power outputs up to 100 kW. Current turbines up to 10 kW power output can be tested at the Tanana River Test Site (TRTS) in Alaska.

Pacific Marine Energy Center - South Energy Test Site (PMEC-SETS) and the California Wave Energy Test Center (Cal-Wave) – Wave Test Facilities (Under Development): In 2016, NNMREC and California Polytechnic State University continued developing preliminary designs and cost estimates for full scale, open-ocean, grid-connected wave energy test facilities, PMEC-SETS and CalWave respectively. PMEC-SETS is located off the coast of Newport, Oregon. CalWave has investigated and characterized several potential locations for a wave energy site offshore of Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California. Researchers continued preliminary design and cost estimates for a selected location and began the permitting process in 2016. At the end of 2016 the Program selected PMEC-SETS as the recipient of up to $40 million in federal funding, subject to appropriations, to design, permit, and construct the PMEC-SETS national wave energy testing facility. Following construction, PMEC-SETS will serve as a wave energy test facility for evaluating full-scale WEC device performance, environmental interactions, and survivability.

Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) – Ocean Current Test Facility: SNMREC, operated by Florida Atlantic University, is working to advance research in open-ocean current systems by building the capability, infrastructure, and strategic partnerships necessary to support technology developers on the path to commercialization. In addition to a remarkable collection of Florida Current resource and biological data for MHK site selection and equipment design, the center offers onshore and offshore testing capabilities. Onshore, a 25-kW dynamometer provides drive train and generator performance evaluation with ocean current data emulated from field measurements. Offshore, developers can use towed testing or component testing with a 3 m, 25-kW horizontal axis research turbine and in-water rotor testing platform. Grid-connected, full-scale test berths are under development.

Hawaii National Marine Renewable Energy Center (HINMREC) – Wave Test Facility and Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC): HINMREC’s mission is to facilitate the development and commercialization of WEC devices and to assist the private sector with moving ocean thermal energy conversion systems beyond proof-of-concept to pre-commercialization. HINMREC supports the Navy in the operation of WETS, providing independent assessment of the power performance (i.e., power output as a function of wave environment) of pre-commercial WEC devices tested therein, while also evaluating their potential environmental impact by measuring acoustic emissions and performing ecological surveys in the ocean area surrounding moorings and along the submarine power cables connected to the electrical distribution system.

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 has two test berth locations, one at 6 m water depth and one at 11 m depth. The wave climate at the test site varies seasonally, with calmer seas in the summer compared to more energetic seas in the winter.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Field Research Facility (FRF): The Field Research Facility is near the town of Duck, North Carolina. 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 10-person staff of computer specialists, technicians, and oceanographers are known for their ability to collect data, design experiments, and conduct research. 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. The research pier can serve as a cable conduit through the surf zone to locations on land.

Center for Ocean Renewable Energy (CORE): CORE, located in and around Durham, New Hampshire, was founded in 2008 and provides multiple-scale research, technology development and evaluation, education, and outreach for issues related to ocean renewable energy systems. CORE’s physical infrastructure consists of the Chase Ocean Engineering (OE) Laboratory with wave/tow tank, engineering tank and water/wind tunnels, the General Sullivan Bridge tidal energy site, the UNH Pier and the AMAC/wave energy site. Mooring grids, historical environmental and survey data, and support vessels are available.

The University of Maine: The University of Maine has the ability to test at three different scales to support the development of new offshore renewable energy devices. Developed with over $20M of federal and State funding to support UMaine’s own technology development effort for floating wind turbines, three test sites have been developed to qualify ew technologies through 1/50 to 1/20 testing in a 100ft x 30ft x 15ft wave tank, intermediate scale testing (1/10 to 1/4) in a sheltered grid-connected offshore site off the Maine coast, and full-scale testing at an offshore test site located approximately 11 miles off the coast of Maine.


Fred. Olsen: Fred. Olsen Autonomous Sea Power’s wave energy converter, the BOLT Lifesaver, was installed at WETS on March 26, 2016. BOLT Lifesaver operates autonomously and operation has mainly been monitored and controlled from Fred. Olsen’s headquarters in Oslo, Norway.

Out of the 280 days installed in 2016, the device has been in power production 218 days, or 78% of the time, producing a total of 17.955 kWh at an average of 3.4 kW. Notably, the device has been in uninterrupted power production since July 19 (165 days).

The current deployment expires in March 2017. Fred. Olsen is looking to further extend the deployment.




Northwest Energy Innovations (NWEI): NWEI’s Azura™ is a multimode, “point absorber” wave energy device 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.

With funding from the Program, NWEI will design, fabricate, and test a full scale Azura™ wave energy device to reduce the LCOE and demonstrate commercial viability at a deep water berth at U.S. Navy’s WETS in Hawaii.

The proposed testing will allow NWEI and its team to determine the energy capture matrix of a full scale device, resulting in a more accurate assessment of LCOE.


Ocean Energy (OE) USA: The OE Buoy, based on the oscillating water column principle, converts wave energy into useful mechanical energy using the principle that the air contained in the plenum chamber is pumped through an air turbine system by the wave action.

This project will leverage lessons learned from three years of extensive scale model testing in Galway Bay, Ireland, that identified design opportunities to lower the cost of electricity and make these design improvements to the OE Buoy technology for a full scale deployment at WETS.

The open water demonstration of the buoy will gather baseline performance data, gain operational experience, and identify further cost reduction opportunities for oscillating water column devices. Comprehensive LCOE validation data will also be generated during the 12-month deployment commencing in 2017.


Columbia Power Technologies: Columbia Power Technologies will conduct an open-ocean demonstration of a largescale StingRAY at WETS in 2018 in a project co-sponsored by the DOE and Navy. The StingRAY is a hybrid design that benefits from the characteristics of both point absorbers and attenuators, significantly increasing energy capture, availability, and survivability. The StingRAY has a composite hull and two large-diameter, direct-drive permanent-magnet-generators and is intended for offshore, utility-scale wave farms. In early 2016, Columbia Power received a Statement of Feasibility from DNV GL for version 3.2 of the StingRAY design. The WETS StingRAY—resulting from 10 years of product development effort, five scaled-prototype tank-tests and three sea trials—will be deployed at the 80-m WETS berth and will demonstrate improvements offering lower-cost installation, operations and maintenance.

Verdant Power: Verdant’s Kinetic Hydropower System (KHPS) is an axial flow current-capturing turbine system. Proposed is a highly integrated approach to the simultaneous design of a suitable mounting system and accompanying operational process for cost-effective installation, maintenance, and retrieval. Verdant and its partners will build on prior work to complete the nominal solution of a TriFrame (TF) that optimizes turbine spacing and structural requirements to allow for cost-effective Installation, Operation, and Maintenance (IO&M), including retrieval of three turbines with one on-water operation. Completing, and proving through testing, the final TF design and accompanying IO&M procedures, will be a major step in providing a commercial KHPS system. The design process, along with the specific results of economic tradeoff studies of single turbine versus tri-frame deployment concept and the investigation of applicability of these results to soft substrates, will be useful to other MHK developers.

Igiugig Village Council and Ocean Renewable Power Company: 
Igiugig Village, Alaska, has partnered with 
Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) to develop the RivGen Power System, a submerged cross-flow river current turbine system. This project proposal uses a RivGen to demonstrate IO&M design improvements, including deployment and retrieval operations with minimal vessel support and no divers, and enhancements to make system components modular to simplify maintenance and more durable during operations.

The project will implement, test (full-scale) and validate the system improvements which have been identified, designed, and analyzed. The project will reduce energy costs and offset diesel generation in remote locations. A reliable and durable RivGen Power System will provide a model for HK project implementation using local equipment and resources that is replicable in Alaska and nationally.


Resolute Marine Energy: The Program has supported Resolute Marine Energy in the development of intelligent feedback and feed-forward control algorithms for use in its next-generation Oscillating Wave Surge Converter (OWSC). The control systems will first be tested on a reduced-scale version of RME’s wave-powered desalination/electricity generation system in RME’s land-based development center. Upon completion of these tests, RME will then deploy a full-scale system at Camp Rilea, Oregon, for approximately one year of ocean trials. During the Camp Rilea tests, RME will also be evaluating a novel deployment and retrieval system which utilizes logistic-over-the-shore technologies (LOTS) developed by the U.S. military services. The goals of this aspect of the Camp Rilea test program include improving safety, reducing downtime associated with repair and maintenance operations, and measuring the effects on costs.


In November 2016, the Program hosted the Wave Energy Prize Innovation Showcase - the culmination of an 18-month design-build-test competition - at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, in West Bethesda, Maryland. Nine finalist teams tested their 1/20-scale model wave energy converter (WEC) devices in the nation’s most advanced wave-making facility—the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Maneuvering and Seakeeping Basin. Three teams were awarded with cash prizes totalling more than $2 million at the showcase. AquaHarmonics from Portland, Oregon, won the grand prize by demonstrating a five-fold improvement in wave energy capture per characteristic cost.  The Wave Energy Prize was a catalyst for a technology leap to drive down the cost of wave energy and help the sector achieve commercialization faster.

In March 2016, the Water Power Technologies Office gathered more than 75 executive members from the Department of Energy, national laboratories, and the marine energy industry for the Executive Summit on Marine and Hydrokinetic Research and Development in Washington, D.C. Attendees learned about the DOE’s MHK investments in the national laboratories and identified activities ripe for technology transfer. Attendees had the unique opportunity to hear firsthand about the important innovations in the MHK research community and DOE’s Small Business Voucher Pilot program, as well as engage in a discussion about DOE’s research and development priorities.

In April, Washington, D.C., hosted Waterpower Week, which brought three events under one roof: National Hydropower Association’s Annual Conference, the International Marine Renewable Energy Conference (IMREC), and Marine Energy Technology Symposium. Representatives from DOE, the national laboratories, and the water power sector participated in the events. Supported by DOE, IMREC featured a Wave Energy Prize showcase where finalists displayed their different WEC technologies. DOE also hosted a workshop to help inform a Marine and Hydrokinetic energy strategic plan for the United States.

The United States deployed its first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island in 2016. With the commissioning of the Block Island Wind Farm by Deepwater Wind, renewable ocean energy is becoming a topic of great interest for other coastal states. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) hosted the California Ocean Renewable Energy Conference in November 2016 at University of California, Davis. At the conference, NREL ocean renewable energy technologists met with colleagues from the sector to share information about California’s offshore renewable energy resources and their technology status. Ocean wave and tidal energy topics included information on U.S. wave and tidal energy resources, global activities, technology types, R&D, and deployments. The conference held a panel session to discuss the human dimensions of the ocean renewable energy industry, which focused on potential jobs and economic development benefits from the use of ocean renewables in California. Additional information on the conference is available on the BOEM website at


In December 2016, the Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Investment Center (CEIC) hosted its year-end Laboratory- Investor Knowledge Series (LINKS) in Menlo Park, California, at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC).

Nearly 40 participants representing the investment community (including venture capital firms and philanthropic organizations), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the White House were in attendance to highlight the anticipated release of the Laboratory Partnering Service (LPS) in January 2017, a new tool to facilitate access to and enable partnerships with DOE national laboratories. The event included a presentation on the U.S. wave and tidal ocean energy resources, the development status of these technologies, and a synopsis of the Wave Energy Prize competition results. Attendees were introduced to DOE’s research and development initiatives to commercialize economically competitive wave and tidal energy technologies. For addition information on the meeting and the DOE Clean Energy Investment Center visit their website at:

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) was included as a component of the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan which was released in 2013.

The implementation plan supports MSP at a regional level. The United States and its territories were divided into nine Regional Planning Bodies (RPBs). All RPBs are at different stages in the planning process. The RPB for a specific region has no regulatory authority and it is still the responsibility of the federal and state agencies to regulate the use of ocean space according to established national legislation and policies.

Several states in the United States have developed and implemented marine plans of their own, all were initiated before the National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan was released. Interest in developing ocean renewable energy is one driver for the formation of these state plans.

On a national level, MSP is meant to be used to inform decisions made by the individual state or federal agencies. On a state level, marine plans have also been used to help guide project siting decisions.

Pre-selected areas for ocean energy development have not been defined on a national level. State Task Forces led by the Department of Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) have identified and set aside initial areas for the development of offshore wind. A number of states have also identified selected areas for ocean energy development (e.g. Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Oregon). Areas identified through spatial planning and pre-selected processes have typically involved collaborative processes including multiple stakeholder groups.

The authorities involved in the consenting process are:

• The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – it has jurisdiction over marine and hydrokinetic facilities in navigable waters that are connected to the grid;
• The BOEM – it has the authority to issue leases and easements for hydrokinetic projects located partially or entirely on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS);
• The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) – it issues permits for any structure places in navigable waters. It has jurisdiction over marine and hydrokinetic facilities in navigable waters that are not connected to the grid;
• The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) – it issues permits to mark all obstructions in navigable waters with the navigation aids and to ensure that projects do not interfere with established shipping lanes.

Multiple other federal agencies are consulted during the permitting process to ensure that projects comply with a number of federal environmental protection statutes. These agencies include, but are not limited to: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (specifically the National Marine Fisheries Service within NOAA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency and National Parks Service.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy supported the development of a handbook containing information on the siting and licensing processes for marine hydrokinetic (MHK) renewable energy projects.

The sequential steps are dependent upon the location of the project and whether the project will be connected to the grid. FERC allows a prospective developers to apply for a preliminary permit but it is not required to obtain a FERC pilot or commercial license. There are 5 different scenarios in which different licenses and permits are necessary, which are the following including the best-case scenario timelines for permit:

• Scenario 1 – Non-grid connected pilot project in state waters – 12 months;
• Scenario 2 – Pilot scale grid connected project in state waters – 12 months;
• Scenario 3 – Commercial scale project in state waters – 4 years or more;
• Scenario 4 – Marine and hydrokinetic projects on the OCS: noncompetitive lease process – 3-5 years;
• Scenario 5 – Marine and hydrokinetic projects on the OCS: competitive lease process – 6-8 years.

The length of the permitting process is dependent upon the type and location of the project, especially if the project is located in a sensitive area. In practice, all MHK permitting in the U.S. have exceeded these timeframes and very few projects have undergone the entire permitting process.

There is no single agency that is responsible for the entire ocean energy consenting process (“one stop shop” facility or entity). There are two agencies with overarching authority over licensing and leasing activities in the U.S., the FERC and the BOEM.

The lead agency is dependent upon the location of the project and whether the project will be connected to the grid. Multiple state agencies are also involved in the consenting process. For all projects located on the OCS (generally 3 nautical miles from shore to the exclusive economic zone boundary) the BOEM must issue a lease that allows the developer access to the site and FERC must issue a license for the project to move forward.

A National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis is always required prior to any action taken by a federal agency.

NEPA was enacted to ensure that federal agencies evaluate potential environmental impacts of any proposed action and reasonable alternatives. As a result of an initial scoping process the project either receives a Categorical Exclusion (CX) or an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The results of the NEPA analysis and multiple consultations that occur before leases and licenses are issued are often used to generate monitoring or mitigation requirements that must be implemented as a condition of the license. The FERC pilot project guidance places large emphasis on post-deployment environmental monitoring while the standard commercial licensing process places a larger emphasis on environmental studies conducted before the license application is filed.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 directed the Department of Energy to work with the Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce to develop a program to support research and demonstration and commercial application to expand the use of marine renewable energy sources. It also allowed for the establishment of the National Marine Renewable Energy Centers. There is no regulatory authority conveyed by this Act.

FERC carries out its regulatory authority under the Federal Power Act. In 2008, FERC developed a Guidance for Pilot Project Licensing to speed up the licensing process for demonstration projects. BOEM has also developed a set of regulations governing its OCS Renewable Energy Program.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 provided guidance for federal regulation of new renewable energy technologies in general and amended the OCS Lands Act to give the Secretary of the Interior the authority to regulate the production, transportation or transmission of renewable energy on the OCS. This authority was delegated to BOEM.

Executive Order 13514 “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance” called for the increased use of renewable energy by federal agencies and aligning Federal policies to increase the effectiveness of local planning for locally generated renewable energy.

Plans for changing legal and administrative frameworks to facilitate development and more integrated marine governance: the Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act of 2013 proposed to amend the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. This act has been introduced to the U.S. Senate but has not yet received legislative or executive approval.

Consultation with various stakeholders and regulators is performed at multiple stages of the process.

Stakeholder consultation starts at the very beginning of the project development, and public comment periods are incorporated into each of the regulatory stages. In order to receive a FERC license or BOEM lease, a series of mandatory consultations are performed, usually in conjunctions with the NEPA analysis.

Various reference materials are available to developers to provide additional details on the licensing process. These include FERC’s ‘Handbook for Hydroelectric Project Licensing’, ‘Hydrokinetic Pilot Project Criteria and Draft Application Checklist’ provided by FERC and ‘Siting Methodologies for Hydrokinetics – Navigating the Regulatory Framework’.

Permitting agencies are in the process of developing a permitting regime for a test center (Pacific Marine Energy Center South Energy Test Site). There is currently no ability under U.S. law to allow for complete “pre-permitting” of test sites; each device to be tested will have to undergo some regulatory processes, although data collected at the site could be shared to help accelerate the process.