Work With Us

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) water power team is ready and able to partner with industry, academia, research laboratories, and other stakeholders to solve challenges facing the hydropower and marine energy industries.

We provide our partners the support they need through various forms of collaboration and access to NREL’s water power facilities and research and development capabilities.

What We Offer

When working with NREL, you gain access to our world-leading research facilities and staff. Working side by side, we can solve unique R&D challenges, while reducing technical risks, and move projects or technology toward commercialization.

Explore the impacts of NREL’s water power program.

People stand next to a wave tank

NREL’s wave tank, installed on the Flatirons Campus, can help partners test their marine energy devices in real-world conditions to save on costly oceanic before prototypes are ready. Photo by Joe DelNero, NREL 

Facilities and Capabilities

NREL has the facilities and capabilities to support the development of water power technologies from concept through commercialization.

Our ever-growing and improving numerical modeling tools, fabrication and testing facilities, and high-performance computing systems can help conceptualize, design, optimize, and simulate novel water power systems.

Once a technology is off the drawing board, NREL’s state-of-the-art laboratory facilities can be used to validate the performance of water power technologies. With a wave tank, simulators, dynamometers, and on-site manufacturing facility, the NREL team is well positioned to take on even the most challenging technology validation projects.

Finally, when a technology is ready for open water testing, the NREL team can provide support with regulatory and permitting needs, grid and microgrid integration, instrumentation systems, and making measurements of system performance to the International Electrotechnical Commission TC-114 standards.

A man sits in the control room of the the 5-MW dynamometer at NREL's Flatirons Campus

The control room overlooks the 5-MW dynamometer at NREL's Flatirons Campus, which allows partners to evaluate power take-off systems for wave and water power components. Photo by Joe DelNero, NREL

The team also helps build the water power workforce through collaborations with the federal government to engage undergraduate students, such as administrating the Marine Energy Collegiate Competition and Hydropower Collegiate Competition, and to educate kids.

Learn more about our research areas, our data and tools, and our facilities—even take a virtual 360-degree tour.

Join Our Team

We’re always looking to expand our team. In the past, interns have contributed to NREL’s water power work through the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program.

Explore all of NREL’s opportunities: Job | Internship | Post Doc | Director's Postdoctoral Fellowship

Collaborate With Us

NREL’s extensive water power program has worked with many partners in industry, government, academia, and beyond to accomplish mutually beneficial projects led by NREL or partners.

See our latest events and opportunities for upcoming webinars, conferences, calls for proposals or requests for information.

Use our contact information at the bottom of the page to discuss how we can collaborate.

Researchers sanding front of an offshore power system component
NREL researchers (from left), Rebecca Fao, Mark Murphy, Casey Nichols, Ismael Mendoza, and Andrew Simms, stand with Reenst Lesemann from C-Power. They have been helping perform land-based verification and validation of C-Power’s SeaRAY Autonomous Offshore Power System power takeoff and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition controls at NREL’s Flatirons Campus, using NREL’s Modular Ocean Data Acquisition in the Water Power Systems Lab and 2.5-MW dynamometer. Initially conceived during a U.S. Department of Defense project, the SeaRAY provides in-situ power, energy storage, and real-time data and communications support set to advance the marine economy toward a future of autonomous, connected and resident technologies. Photo by Werner Slocum, NREL

Partner With NREL

Partner with us through technology partnership agreements. Participate in subcontracted water research through solicitations and requests for proposals. Use our cutting-edge research facilities to develop, test, and evaluate water technologies.

License NREL Technology

License our technologies with licensing agreements. See what technologies are available for licensing on the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Innovation Portal.

Two men in winter coats stand next to a large electrical box in a facility.

In 2018, Daniel Rich, Mayor of Ouzinkie at the time, led national lab researchers on a tour of the Native village's mini hydropower plant in Ouzinkie, Alaska. With NREL's help and government funding, the broken plant could again pr51291

Water Power Partnerships

Our partners and collaborators include but are not limited to organizations and institutions related to:

  • The federal government
  • Hydropower and marine energy industries
  • Academia
  • Nonprofits
  • Entrepreneurs/startups and prize competitions
  • Government sponsorships
  • Local (e.g., city) authorities
  • Utilities.

Water Power Projects

Keep up to date on our water power projects via our latest news and our quarterly newsletter, The Current. A few examples of projects, and satisfied partner testimonials, include:

With material designed in house, NREL has designed new turbine blades that could be more hardy and recyclable. To validate it, researchers installed the blades on a tidal turbine Verdant Power deployed in New York’s East River. Watch the video about NREL's work with Verdant Power on tidal turbines.

“We couldn’t be doing this without the, really, the strength of our collaboration with our partners. Verdant Power, in particular. We’re also working with other national labs … to answer a range of questions on this project,” said NREL’s Levi Kilcher. “And, of course, we couldn’t be doing this without DOE support.”

"Together with the [U.S.] Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office and NYSERDA, Verdant Power will be helping build sustainable communities and solving some of marine energy’s biggest challenges,” said John Banigan, CEO of Verdant Power.

NREL has worked with the small Alaskan village of Igiugig as well as Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories to help it characterize its energy resources. With contract help from TerraSond Limited, Ocean Renewable Power Co., and Integral Consulting, the team collected data to identify renewable energy systems to cut down on issues of unreliable and costly energy. Watch the video about collecting data in Cook Inlet.

"It's a huge amount of power that we have access to at our doorstep," said Chris Rose, executive director of the Renewable Energy Alaska Project, a nonprofit that advances clean energy solutions for Alaska. "The economic and environmental benefits would be immense."

The DOE Water Power Technologies Office Testing Expertise and Access for Marine Energy Research (TEAMER) program pairs promising marine energy startups with experts at national laboratories, universities, and other partners in the TEAMER network. So far, NREL has supported 15 of 71 TEAMER projects. Watch the video about NREL’s validation capabilities.

“TEAMER enables us to work with industry and apply our simulation software to real-world applications,” NREL’s David Ogden said. “It's a symbiotic relationship. They benefit from this programming. We benefit from having a better understanding of what the industry needs.”

NREL is helping isolated communities such as Dillingham and Ouzinkie, Alaska, and Eastport, Maine, harness reliable and resilient water power by partnering with DOE through its Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP). This includes helping them build better or new energy infrastructure that can generate clean, affordable, and locally sourced water power from their rivers and oceans.

"What I'm hoping is that we can actually lower rates and create long-term jobs with these projects that come out of the ETIPP program, and long sustainability for the people that live here," said Mayor Elijah Jackson of Ouzinkie, Alaska, who has been working to repair a 2019-installed hydropower plant to remove the Native village’s dependency on imported diesel.

Co-developed by NREL and Sandia National Laboratories, the first-of-its-kind, open-source Wave Energy Converter SIMulator WEC-Sim), which is a 2021 R&D 100 Award winner, has helped many organizations in the industry move wave energy converters into the commercial market. The National Aeronautics and Science Administration also used the tool to improve the safety of astronauts’ landing.

“Today, a lot of developers are going into the water to prove their technologies,” NREL’s Nathan Tom said. “Their design could produce a lot of power, but it can also cost millions of dollars just to get it in the ocean. What’s exciting about WEC-Sim is that it can help reduce these costs by optimizing designs at home, which could make wave energy development faster, cheaper, and, well, smarter.”

Researchers on a boat standing next to a mooring

NREL, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories researchers deployed three moorings in Cook Inlet, Alaska, to collect data for a potential tidal energy site with the help of crew on the ship, the Peregrine Falcon, and industry contractors TerraSond Limited, Ocean Renewable Power Company, and Integral Consulting. The research could help build up the state of Alaska’s economy, lower their fossil fuel costs, and renewable energy contributions. From left to right: Chris Higgins (Peregrine Falcon), Patrick Verity (Peregrine Falcon), Brian Hunt (TerraSond Limited), Frank Spada (Integral Consulting), Levi Kilcher (NREL), Andrew Smith (TerraSond Limited), Gwen Sovitski, Olivia Cormier (TerraSond Limited), Jeff Johnson (Peregrine Falcon). Photo from Christopher Pike

Contact Us

Dive into our research areas to find contact information for your specific area of interest within hydropower, marine energy, or integrated systems. Or search our staff database.

Have a more general question or can’t find what you’re looking for? Send us an email at water.power@nrel.gov.