Wave-SPARC: Systematic Process and Analysis for Reaching Commercialization

The Wave-SPARC (Systematic Process and Analysis for Reaching Commercialization) project targets the development of game-changing wave energy converter technologies.

The goal of Wave-SPARC is to deliver the necessary methods and tools to enable new, groundbreaking wave energy technology. This is being accomplished through a full systems engineering analysis and has resulted in a set of functional requirements for wave energy converters, which form the foundation for technology concept innovation.

Structured inventive techniques are being applied to develop subsystem and system solutions. To direct the development of the most promising concepts, holistic assessments of these technology concepts are made at the earliest possible stage to determine technology performance levels.

The methodologies and tools for technology innovation and technology assessment developed in this project are provided to industry as a service and for individual use. The novel wave energy converter concepts invented in this project will be simulated and validated in collaboration with industry and be provided for its nonexclusive use.


Wave-SPARC strives to implement the technology development trajectory that was identified as the most effective regarding development cost, time, and risk.

For the implementation of this effective technology development path, the following methods and tools are required and have been developed:

  • Complete formulation of the wave energy problem statement in the form of technology solution agnostic functional requirements
  • Holistic technology assessment methods and tool considering all cost and performance drivers applicable to early-stage wave energy technology concepts
  • Adaptation and application of powerful established innovation tools for the invention and improvement of novel and high promise wave energy technology concepts.

For the development and application of the above methods and tools, a thorough systems engineering approach has been implemented.


Wave-SPARC is performed in three distinct project branches:

  • Innovation: Inventing, verifying and validating novel wave energy technology concepts
  • Assessment: Continuous improvement of the Technology Performance Level (TPL) assessment methodology and tool and provision of free and confidential services to industry
  • International collaboration: Intensive stakeholder engagement and collaboration at local and global levels regarding innovation, assessment, and metrics.

Several wave energy conversion systems and subsystems solutions have been invented, described, and assessed.

The TPL assessment tool is provided to industry and all stakeholders in the United States and globally. To date, over 500 use cases of over 100 technologies have been recorded.

Through international collaboration, high standards and international exposure and alignment are supported.

Check out the Technology Assessment: Wave Energy webinar for more information.


Innovation and assessment work is progressing and delivering high quality output. The innovation solution pool will be increased, further assessed, verified, and subsequently validated. Industry will be further involved in these activities.

Initially, Wave-SPARC will target the largest and most challenging wave energy market: providing electricity to the continental grid. The scope will then expand to other markets supporting the blue economy.


Adapting the Technology Performance Level Integrated Assessment Framework to Low-TRL Technologies Within the Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage Industry, Part I, Frontiers in Climate (2022)

Developing Technology Performance Level Assessments for Early-Stage Wave Energy Converter Technologies, NREL Technical Report (2021)

Systematic Process and Analysis for Reaching Commercialization, U.S. Department of Energy Water Power Technologies Office Peer Review (2019)

WaveSPARC: Evaluation of Innovation Techniques for Wave Energy, 13th European Wave and Tidal Energy Conference (2019)

Systems Engineering Applied to the Development of a Wave Energy Farm, Sandia Technical Report (2017)

Read more publications from NREL's Water Research Program.


Jochem Weber

Chief Engineer