US$10.5 million to support MHK system design and operation innovation

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy announced six organizations will each receive up to US$10.5 million to support the design and operation of innovative marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) systems through survivability and reliability-related improvements.

As part of its MHK technology research and development efforts, DOE is working to harness largely untapped renewable energy in waves, tidal, ocean, and river currents that could provide clean, affordable energy to homes and businesses across U.S. coastal regions. Funding efforts to improve these devices could help engineers make them last longer, cost less to maintain and become more efficient in gathering sustainable energy from the nation’s oceans and rivers.

DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories will provide numerical modeling resources and expertise to three projects. The projects will increase survivability of wave energy converters (WEC), addressing the challenges of designing MHK energy systems to operate in the ocean environment for years:

  • Dehlsen Associates LLC — Based in Santa Barbara, Calif., the company is developing a WEC comprised of multiple pods that use common components to achieve economies of scale. In this project, the device structure will be optimized to improve its survivability characteristics, thus significantly reducing the cost of energy derived from the WEC.
  • M3 Wave LLC — Based in Salem, Ore., the company is developing a WEC that sits on the ocean floor and harnesses energy from pressure waves created by overhead ocean waves. This project will develop modeling tools to explore ways to minimize effects of sediment transport — water erosion, displacement, and tilting of the device — to increase the system’s lifespan by reducing its maintenance requirements in commercial deployments.
  • Oscilla Power Inc. — Based in Seattle, Wash., the company is developing a WEC that has a surface float suspended in water, which is tethered to a base. This projects seeks to optimize the device’s storm-survival configurations, which will decrease the loads the device experiences during extreme conditions, thus lowering costs to produce energy.

Three additional projects will reduce uncertainty with regard to marine installation, operations and maintenance (IO&M):

  • Columbia Power Technologies Inc. — Located in Charlottesville, Va., the company will develop and deploy a streamlined, cost-effective installation and recovery process that includes design updates and process improvements related to IO&M, while deploying the floating, offshore WEC. The team also has a goal to identify specific methods to reduce the cost of energy in future deployments.
  • Igiugig Village Council — Located in southwestern Alaska, will develop a river turbine system that will demonstrate IO&M design improvements to simplify maintenance and make system components more durable during operations.
  • Verdant Power Inc. — Located of New York, N.Y., will complete their TriFrame foundation, which optimizes turbine spacing and support structures to allow for cost-effective IO&M. This will provide a way to deploy three turbines together as a single system and make it possible to retrieve all three turbines with one on-water operation.


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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for

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