PRIMRE/Telesto/Design and Build

From Open Energy Information

< PRIMRE‎ | Telesto

Design & Build


In the nascent field of marine energy, each developer applies their ideas to develop new and better energy converters. Basic designs are described at the Marine Energy Basics page. This page provides links to software, technology assessment techniques, research on construction materials, and lessons learned by other energy converter developers. Design standards, linked on this page, for ocean based technology are extensive and based on years of construction success and failure.

The Atargis team hard at work, building their device

The Atargis team hard at work, building their device.

Design Software

The Marine Energy Software knowledge hub is a collection of software applicable to marine energy projects. This knowledge hub contains a wide variety of open source and commercial software which cover all stages of project development, from planning to decommissioning. The software has design capabilities for marine structures, structural analysis, turbine blades, pumps, compressors, fluid flow (CFD), wave spectra, and more. Software can be used for WECs, CECs, and wind turbines.

Manufacturing and Supply Chain

Moving beyond the initial pencil on paper design, or model based system engineering, the technology developer enters the realm of material acquisition, manufacturing, and supply chains. When building an experimental or pilot scale device there has to be a balance between custom designs, which provide the most efficient power production, and commercial off the shelf (COTS) parts. Approaching the local machine shop with the design of single piece requiring complex machining of expensive alloys will become expensive very quickly. COTS parts on the other hand are readily available. They have been tested and may be certified by testing agencies for safety. They likely have known lifespans (or failure rates) and are less expensive because they are mass produced. Is another company already producing a small generator that would work in your pilot scale device? Automotive companies employ thousands of engineers who are already building generators and motors for electric vehicles. Might they work for you too?

COTS parts are also part of the international supply chain, with electronics produced in many countries like China, Germany, Japan, as well as the U.S. When the COVID pandemic upset this supply chain it became difficult to source some equipment. It is impossible to predict the future but consider the impacts that supply chain disruptions might have on deliverables to your investors. The longer the chain the more fragile it may be. Expensive materials or alloys, rare earth magnets being one example, produced in only one or two countries may give pause as well.

As your design progresses to open water testing and mass production who will be doing the full scale manufacturing? Many designs require production in shipyards because the shipyard is capable of handling heavy pieces of steel and can easily launch the device into the ocean. Think again about transportation distances; what is the balance between transportation costs and manufacturing facilities? Is the design compact enough that the entire device can be transported on a truck from a cheaper inland site or is it so large that it must be completed at the port? It may be more cost effective to build sub-components like the power take off and all its electronics in one location while building the external shell in another. All of these trade offs can be considered when trying to find manufacturing partners.

Technology Performance Level Assessment

The Technology Performance Level (TPL) assessment is a holistic methodology to assess a wave energy converter (WEC) technology’s ability to achieve market competitiveness and acceptability via quantifiable criteria-based consideration of key cost, performance, environmental, safety, and societal drivers. The TPL assessment can be applied at all technology development stages and associated technology readiness levels (TRLs).

For lower TRL technologies, the TPL assessment is particularly effective because it highlights potential showstoppers at the earliest possible stage of WEC technology development, thereby decreasing cost, time, and risk of WEC development. Specifically, TPL assessment can be used by: technology developers to get design feedback, identify areas of improvement, and find fatal flaws early; investors and project developers to conduct due diligence; reviewers to assess wave energy converter proposals and make funding decisions; reviewers to assess wave energy converter technologies in competitions; and researchers to landscape the domain to formulate R&D strategy.

You can view a recording of an international webinar describing the development, use, and example questions from the TPL assessment at Sandia National Labs'Wave-SPARC website. The presentation was recorded in December 2022.

Graph showing the relationship between Technology Readiness Level (TRL) and Technology Performace Level (TPL). As TRL increases so does the cost of development, but a tradeoff is TPL will also increase and the cost of energy will go down
Graph showing the relationship between Technology Readiness Level (TRL) and Technology Performace Level (TPL). As TRL increases so does the cost of development, but a tradeoff is TPL will also increase and the cost of energy will go down.

Advanced Materials and Manufacturing

The Marine Energy Advanced Materials and Manufacturing project has been testing composite materials for use in the harsh marine environment. Their database and publications contain their research on how the use of composite materials affects design, fluid structure interaction and manufacturing. Composite materials provide benefits in terms of lighter weight, advanced and customized manufacture, and improved resistance to the marine environment. The U.S. Department of Energy Wind Energy Technologies Office and Water Power Technologies Office have funded Sandia National Laboratories and its partner, Montana State University, to conduct extensive testing and analysis on wind turbine blades and materials for marine energy devices in support of the industry and research communities.

Foundations and Moorings

Moorings, foundations and anchors are an important part of ocean-based energy converters. From near shore concrete platforms to composite spring tensioners for deep-water deployment, mooring is what the prime mover works against and as such is an integral part of the design. Specialty ocean architecture firms can design and model moorings to find the most cost-effective and efficient method of producing power given an energy converter design.

This section provides links to basic information, current research and guidance on mooring and anchors. A description of, and links to, the IEC standard for the Assessment of Mooring Systems for Marine Energy Convertors IEC TS 62600-10 is located on Telesto's Standards page. A discussion on testing and monitoring of anchors is located in Telesto's Open Water Testing page. Additionally Tethys Engineering curates documents on mooring and performance.

Design Standards

The establishment of international standards assist in mitigating the technical and financial risks associated with the diverse range of technology concepts that currently exist in the marine energy industry, enabling a quicker uptake of commercial systems. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) work together to promote world-wide cooperation on equipment design and operation in the field of marine energy, as well as many others. To this end the IEC and ISO publish international standards, technical specifications, guides, and other reports to further knowledge. Standards are produced with the consensus of national committees, international, governmental, and non-governmental organizations. These standards represent an international consensus of opinion on their subject matter, in this case wave, tidal, and river resource assessments.

Links below provide an abstract for the standards and a link for purchase from the IEC or ISO. A full list of standards of interest to marine energy projects can be found at PRIMRE’s Standards page

IEC Standards

ISO Standards

API and Offshore Industry Standards

The API is a leader in the development of petroleum and petrochemical equipment and operating standards. These standards represent more than 60 years of industry design experience. Many have been incorporated into state and federal regulations and adopted by the ISO for worldwide acceptance. For more information visit the American Petroleum Institute (API) summary on Telesto's Standards page.

Lessons Learned

The PRIMRE team has conducted semi-structured interviews with marine energy subject matter experts to collect lessons learned from past and present marine energy research, development, and deployment projects. The summary of this information aims to ensure that knowledge is not lost, past mistakes are avoided, and hard-won successes are capitalized on. Lessons learned from projects in the design and build phase include: