Wave Array and System Integration Analysis

NREL is creating a numerical modeling toolset to empower the wave energy sector to design projects of various scales.

These projects are optimized on a plant performance basis and are compatible with different power systems and wave conditions. The research effort also includes the integration of performance analysis, wave environment and grid system simulation models. The developed toolset is applied for the analysis of the energy storage applications, power system management and control, and impact to the grid system. 

Illustration of a wave energy farm, showing the operations control center, grid, substation, cable to shore, wave energy converters, offshore substation, and undersea substation.
Artist's impression of a wave energy farm. Illustration by Alfred Hicks, NREL.

Research Activities

Wave Environment Modeling

NREL is teaming with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to develop a phase-resolved modeling approach to provide a realistic time domain wave-fields input to evaluate the power output of a virtual wave energy conversion (WEC) array at the PacWave site off the Oregon Coast.

Power Take-Off Simulation

NREL is developing a detailed power take-off model coupled with a time-domain hydrodynamics model to evaluate the power take-off efficiency for WECs and the trade-off between power output and fluctuation using different power smoothing methods, including energy storage, pressure relief mechanism, and a power-based setpoint control method.

Power System Modeling

NREL is establishing a methodology for understanding and managing the potential impacts of WEC device electrical output (in terms of power quality and power variability), within the WEC device and within the array. This empowers the wave energy sector the ability to model multi-unit WEC power systems, improve power generation optimization for WEC arrays, and analyze the impact to the grid system.


Analysis on the Influence of an Energy Storage System and Its Impact to the Grid for a Wave Energy Converter, 38th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering (2019)

Numerical Analysis on Hydraulic Power Take-Off for Wave Energy Converter and Power Smoothing Methods, 37th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering (2018)


Michael Lawson

Group Research Manager II, Systems Engineering