Skip to main content

Marine and Hydrokinetic Research

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducts and supports research and development on marine and hydrokinetic technologies ranging from design and simulation to resource characterization and energy analysis to grid integration and market acceleration.

Photo of a large, horizontal-axis turbine generator unit being prepared for lowering into the water using a crane.


Marine and hydrokinetic energy—or ocean energy, as it's sometimes called—is a burgeoning industry in the United States, and NREL researchers are on the front line of of design, analysis, research validation, resource and site characterization for wave, tidal, and river and ocean current technologies.

Photo of an innovative wave energy converter, in the water, that interacts with all components of the wave to maximize energy capture.

Design, Simulation, and Standards

NREL brings 35 years of experience in numerical simulation to the field of ocean energy research and development. Researchers have developed user-friendly, open-source modeling to analyze the performance and dynamic response of wave- and current-energy devices. The ocean-energy team supports industry to design innovative MHK technologies and facilitates consensus on international standards to certify these technologies.

Photo of a large instrumentation buoy in the water.

Technology Validation

NREL's facilities enable engineers to assess MHK components for performance and reliability in a controlled environment. This allows devices to be optimized prior to expensive and time-consuming open-water validation.

Screenshot of a map showing the various marine and hydrokinetic resources on the coast of the United States.

Resource Characterization and Maps

NREL develops measurement systems, simulation tools, and web-based geographic information system databases that accelerate MHK device engineering and project development. Learn more about marine and hydrokinetic resource characterization.

Photo of a dock and large pieces of equipment for a tidal turbine in the water.

Energy and Economic Analysis

NREL's MHK researchers develop cost models and tools to evaluate the economic potential of power-generating devices for all technology readiness levels. In-house tools and methods evaluate primary cost drivers such as structural designs, power-take-off designs, and marine operations.

Photo of power lines at sunset.

Grid Integration

NREL evaluates the impact and value of all types of MHK generation on power systems—from small distribution systems to high-penetration interconnection.

Photo of a lonely ship in stormy, rough seas.

Market Acceleration

NREL analysts study the potential impacts that developing a robust MHK market could have on manufacturing, project siting, and workforce development.

Learn more about marine and hydrokinetic research.

Contact Us

Marine and Hydrokinetic Research Leads

Marine and hydrokinetic research leads at NREL focus not only on developing a robust national industry but also communicating with the international community to learn through collaboration.

Photo of Bob Thresher

Bob Thresher

Research Fellow


Jochem Weber

Chief Engineer—Water