System and Component Testing and Validation

NREL's marine renewable energy system and component testing and validation capabilities build on over 30 years of experience in wind, solar, grid, transmission, and siting.

Photo of two researchers in a lab testing a wave energy converter.

NREL is also the only laboratory in the United States that is accredited for standards compliant testing. The goal is to provide the marine renewable energy community with end-to-end testing capabilities to help prove technologies prior to and during open-water deployments. 

NREL's testing capabilities range from lab to field, watt to megawatt, and component to system. The lab's marine renewable energy test capabilities include: 

  • A full range of dynamometers and structural test equipment
  • Engineers and technicians qualified for laboratory and field testing
  • A large set of commercial grade sensors, instruments, and hardware
  • Composites research and manufacturing
  • A2LA accreditation in power performance, power quality, and mechanical loads testing of wave and tidal systems
  • Nanogrid, microgrid, and grid integration and testing laboratories. 

Wave Tank

NREL's wave tank can simulate the wet ocean environment and its movements so researchers developing technology for marine energy, offshore wind, or other ocean-based industries can validate their scaled devices and components before taking prototypes to the sea. Combined with other Flatirons Campus capabilities—including modeling, advanced manufacturing, and hardware in the loop (simulating how electronics will operate in a real-world situation)—the wave tank will enable researchers to rapidly design, build, and validate offshore marine energy technology.

Open-Water Testing Support

NREL provides full open-water testing and resource measurement support, which includes provision of sensors, instruments, and data acquisitions systems, along with engineers and technicians for installation, operation, data processing, and data management. All of NREL's field staff are highly skilled in electrical and mechanical systems and have extensive experience in both wind and water power applications.

Dynamometer Facilities

NREL's dynamometer research facilities can validate power take-off systems for wave and current energy devices over a range of capacity ratings. These dynamometers are able to reproduce the full range of regular and irregular motions seen at all scales and in all environments.

Large-Amplitude Motion Platform

The motion platform can emulate various wave states as a dry simulator of ocean environments used for dry validation of small- or full-scale offshore marine, wind, and solar power devices.

Structural Validation Laboratories

NREL engineers design experiments and perform structural validation in structural test laboratories using representative forces and environmental conditions that recreate extreme in-water conditions.

Composite Materials Research and Manufacturing

NREL researchers are developing innovative composite materials and manufacturing technologies that have the potential to significantly improve the performance and reduce the cost of renewable energy technologies while improving the recyclability of materials used in manufacturing.

Accredited Testing

NREL is accredited through the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation for standards compliant power performance, power quality, and mechanical loads testing of wave and tidal technologies.

International Standards

NREL supports the development of internationally recognized standards under the auspices of the International Electrotechnical Commission Technical Committee 114 (IEC TC 114) "Marine Energy—Wave, Tidal, and Other Water Current Converters," which was established by the IEC in 2008.