An Introduction to the Small Wave Energy Converter Analysis Tool (Text Version)

This is the text version of the video An Introduction to the Small Wave Energy Converter (WEC) Analysis Tool.

Jim McNally, mechanical engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, gives a demonstration of the software.

Jim McNally: If you've ever wondered how much power a wave energy converter could make, we've got some answers for you with the new Small WEC analysis tool developed by NREL funded by the Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office. For example, this machine was recently put in the water at the Waves to Water Prize in North Carolina, and if you were ever wondering how much power this might make or what are the forces or torques on that machine, we've modeled some of those machines.

So, for example, let's take a look at the devices that we've modeled. We've got attenuators, which is similar to what we just saw; oscillating a surge device, it's basically a paddle; point absorber, which is pretty much the most common type of wave energy converter. And a point absorber. And if we look at, for example, that last device for the Waves to Water Prize, if we look at the attenuator device, we can see that we've got a basic schematic of what it looks like.

We can choose different scales. For example, this is about 60 ft across, 45 ft across, 15 ft across, and about 7.5 ft across. So, let's choose Model B, which is about 15 ft across, and let's take a look at some of the data that we've simulated. First thing that pops up is the average power, which is the most common thing that developers and stakeholders are interested in. We have here the attenuator first model. We can hover over each one of these boxes. Each one of these boxes represents the specific operating point or a sea state.

So, in this case, we've got 2 1/4 m average wave height with different wave periods associated with that sea state.

We can also have a choice of what we're looking at. We can look at torque. You can look at PTO velocities. We can look at the pitch angles of the device. You can look at power, maximum power in this case, not average power.

We could also do something kind of interesting, and as we can compare this device with another type of device, so let's say hit this button. Compare device. Let's choose the two-body point absorber. And this would be one of the smaller devices. We can also choose a larger device. And we could do side-by-side comparisons. So, let's go back to, let's say, average power. We can compare average power comparisons. You can also see which devices we're looking at. In this case, we have two the two types of devices that we're comparing and their basic properties.

What’s also kind of cool as we can also visualize this in a three-dimensional graph that gives you as opposed to a heat map, allows you to kind of zoom around and scroll and investigate these points. If you hover over each point, it gives you a comparison, in this case the average power.

This is a first-of-its-type data repository. I think it will give stakeholders—whether they be college students or entrepreneurs or people making decisions about funding—a way to get an idea of what these machines might be able to produce.