NREL launches free analysis tool for small wave energy converters

Researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have published the Small WEC analysis tool, the purpose of which is to provide free basic information on the performance of different types of wave energy converters in various ocean contexts. .

Illustration/Different Types of Wave Energy Conversion Devices (Screenshot/Small WEC Analysis Tool)

Developed as part of the collaboration between U.S. Department of Energy Office of Water Power Technologies and NRELthe Small WEC scan tool has recently been released as a publicly available online graphical user interface that offers key background data on wave energy converters (WEC).

The tool allows users to explore and compare the performance of small WECs by visualizing WEC data. Users can select different wave energy devices and choose a specific scale to visualize the data, and they also have the ability to compare different devices, enter specific energy goals, and explore WECs that meet their criteria.

“There are many different types of WECs. But these concepts represent the most popular mechanisms that inventors envision when designing their own,” said Jim McNallyTechnological Innovation, Modeling and Evaluation Engineer at NREL, who led the development of the tool.

The tool would also be useful for researchers and funders looking for a benchmark measurement of how much energy a particular WEC should produce. This information helps those decision makers assess whether the innovation merits funding or lab testing space, according to NREL.

“With WECs, there are several ways to estimate how much power they will produce, but often those estimates aren’t entirely accurate,” McNally said. “Decision makers needed an interface where they could quickly look up an estimate and be able to see if a proposal is in the ballpark.”

Having this information in a publicly accessible interface, along with historical data, is vital for anyone in the energy wave sector, which includes startups, universities and researchers, NREL said.

Additionally, the energy estimates found in the tool can either help speed up an inventor’s design cycle or prevent them from wasting time on a flawed concept from the get-go. This information just helps close the design loop, according to McNally.

Due to the harsh marine environments in which WECs must operate and the complex regulatory requirements imposed on device deployments, advances in wave energy technology have been slow.

While not huge, small-scale WECs could help meet the needs of small communities and projects, and the data found in the Small WEC Analysis Tool will help identify the best WECs for the job. , according to NREL.

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