Characterizing wave energy resources for improved test siting and device deployment.

Sandia catalogs test site infrastructure, met-ocean data, and resource characteristics for  wave energy converter test and utility-scale deployment sites in the United States using consistent methodologies, including those developed by the international standards organization, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).  This information allows wave energy planners and technology developers to select appropriate sites for commercial wave farms and provides critical inputs for device design and testing.


Operational Sea States

The water power industry lacks a single information source with a well-documented and consistent approach that defines wave environmental characteristics at U.S. test sites. To address this problem, Sandia developed a catalog of wave environmental characteristics at test sites and potential deployment locations. This catalog enables developers to compare and select test sites with the most suitable characteristics for their device and testing needs. It also includes detailed descriptions of met-ocean conditions which will allow developers to prepare for testing more quickly and avoid the costs of acquiring such information. WEC Test Site Catalogue.

Contact: Annie Dallman –

Model simulated climate hindcasts provide the spatial and temporal coverage often lacking with wave buoy measurements. However, wave model codes and best modeling practices have not been well-documented. To address this gap, Sandia and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) established a wave modeling test bed off the central Oregon coast to investigate wave model codes, modeling best practices, and current limitations predicting normal and extreme sea states.
Contact: Vince Neary –


Our resource  catalogs provide joint probability distributions (JPDs) of occurrence and contribution to energy, mean monthly values of wave statistics suggested by the IEC technical specification, cumulative probability distributions, weather windows,  representative spectrum, extreme sea states, and wind and ocean current statistics.


Extreme Sea States

Wave-Resource-CharacterizationThe Inverse First-Order Reliability Method (I-FORM) considers both wave height and period to predict the frequency of occurrence of extreme sea states which can damage MHK devices.  Sandia’s modified I-FORM, which uses principal components, better represents the data and should contribute to the development of more realistic representations of environmental contours of extreme sea states for use in survivability analysis.