A Comprehensive Assessment Tool for Low-TRL Current Energy Converters: Preprint

Dominic Forbush, Jonathan Colby, Nicole Mendoza

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Along with a market-competitive levelized cost of energy, a current energy converter technology strongly benefits from an extensive consideration of socioeconomic, environmental, and regulatory factors early in the design process. As part of a technology performance level assessment, a series of assessment questions and guidance are developed and presented to evaluate an early-stage current energy technology on holistic criteria considering the entire device lifecycle. The assessment represents an accumulation of industry and research experience to date and relies on regular updates to ensure alignment with industry best-practices, regulatory requirements, and up-to-date technical understanding. A cradle-to-grave (materials, manufacturing, installation and deployment, operations and maintenance, and end-of-life) assessment of capabilities and functional requirements for tidal, river, and ocean current technologies has been completed. This work presents the evaluation questions and qualitative performance criteria for current energy converters deployed in tidal, ocean current, and/or river applications. Key considerations related to manufacturing and installation include supply chain robustness, manufacturability and related job creation in the end-user and/or adjacent communities, and the time-to-repayment of the embodied energy debt. During deployment and maintenance operations, the safety of the device and subsystems during disconnect or grid failure, the difficulty and frequency of offshore heavy-lift activities, the avoidance or mitigation of area use conflicts, the sea-states and weather conditions that permit maintenance access, and the availability of contingency plans (should conditions change unexpectedly) are a portion of the considered assessment criteria. Results include the potential impact of early-stage design decisions on the socioeconomic, environmental, and regulatory performance of a technology that allows developers to increase the product value and probability of success, and minimize costly late-stage design iterations through early and broad consideration of factors affecting overall performance and acceptability.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2023
EventEuropean Wave and Tidal Energy Conference - Bilbao, Spain
Duration: 3 Sep 20237 Sep 2023


ConferenceEuropean Wave and Tidal Energy Conference
CityBilbao, Spain

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5000-87075


  • industry support
  • ocean current
  • river
  • technology assessment
  • tidal


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