High-resolution 32-year Wave Hindcasts for the U.S. Coastal Waters

June 8, 2021 8:12 am Published by

High Performance Computing at Sandia plays a key role in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technology Office’s mission of advancing the commercialization of wave energy by generating an assortment of geospatial statistics on wave energy resources in the U.S. at an unprecedented level of spatial and temporal resolution. This was recently highlighted in a collaborative project between Sandia’s water-power technologies department and North Carolina State University (NCSU).

Ocean wave energy is renewable, has a high energy density, is close to high coastal population centers around the globe, and has limited environmental impacts. In the U.S., wave energy resources make up approximately 80% of the ocean hydrokinetic energy resources (wave, ocean currents, and tidal currents). A wide spectrum of wave energy conversion (WEC) technologies designed to capture, absorb, and convert the energy transferred by ocean waves to electricity, or some other useful form of energy, are under development, but the costs of these technologies are high and industry is still in its pre-commercial phase. Sandia is one of DOE’s main national laboratories conducting foundational research since the conception of the Water Power R&D program to improve the techno-economic performance of these technologies, leveraging decades of experience in water power technology engineering, controls and materials research, large-scale testing, and HPC.

The Sandia-NCSU team applied the Simulating WAves Nearshore (SWAN) model to simulate a 32-year wave hindcast along the U.S. East Coast, which encompassed the entire economic exclusion zone (EEZ) 200 nautical miles offshore with a computational mesh of over 4.3 million grid points.

Learn how the Sandia-NCSU team applied the Simulating WAves Nearshore (SWAN) model to simulate a 32-year wave hindcast along the U.S. East Coast in the latest issue of Sandia’s 2020 High Performance Computing Annual Report.

All hindcasts will be extended to 40 years by September 30th this year for the East Coast, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. The team has also generated a 32-year, high-resolution wave hindcast for the U.S. coastline along the Gulf of Mexico and for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea.

Various metrics characterizing the wave energy resource and extreme wave conditions, like the 50-year significant wave height, will be computed and mapped to inform state and regional energy planners, wave and offshore wind energy developers, and designers of marine energy systems.

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