The Reference Model Project (RMP), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is a partnered effort to develop marine hydrokinetic (MHK) reference models (RMs) for wave energy converters and tidal, ocean, and river current energy converters. The RMP team includes a partnership between DOE; four national laboratories—Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL); two consulting firms—Re Vision Consulting, LLC, and Cardinal Engineering; the University of Washington, and Pennsylvania State University. SNL leads the RMP.
The RMP was initiated to:
- Develop a well-documented methodology (Figure 1) for marine energy conversion (MEC) technology design and economic analysis to harness tidal, river, and ocean energy and advance the technology and knowledge base toward commercial viability;
- Develop four MEC reference resource sites modeled after actual tidal, river, ocean current energy and wave energy sites that industry and the R&D community can use to develop their MEC technologies and levelized cost of energy (LCOE) estimates to compare to the LCOE baselines in this report; and
- Demonstrate the methodology’s application by designing four reference MEC device/array archetypes for the modeled MEC reference resource sites, referred to herein as RM1, RM2, RM3, and RM4, identifying cost drivers and estimating baseline LCOE for each MEC device/array archetype.
*NOTE: The term array, plant, and farm are used interchangeably to refer to multiple, connected MEC/MHK devices in a configuration for generating energy. For commercial-scale projects, we assume 10 connected devices for small commercial scale and 50 or more connected devices for large commercial scale.
We encourage MEC developers with similar MEC technology archetypes to apply our methodology, with the appropriate reference resource sites, to design and estimate LCOEs for their technologies. Of course, such a comparison is only possible if using the same methodology, reference resource sites, and assumptions and approximations, which we attempt to clearly articulate in this report. For this purpose, we have archived supporting documentation on this website. In addition to the overarching report below that provides details of the project, supplementary documents, including supporting design and analysis reports, and Excel spreadsheet files that provide detailed cost breakdown structure and LCOE for each RM model are provided.
Figure 1. Methodology for design, analysis, and LCOE estimation for MEC technologies.