Mooring System Cost Estimates for Wave Energy Farms in Shared Mooring Arrays

Stein Housner, Thanh Toan Tran, Matt Hall, Borja de Miguel Para, Aimar Maeso

Research output: NRELPresentation


As wave energy converters (WECs) become more advanced and cost-efficient, so too must their mooring systems. A key question in the development plans for WECs is the cost of the mooring system, particularly for large wave farms. WEC devices deployed in a WEC farm array, where each device can be connected by shared mooring lines in various array layouts, have potential to reduce mooring system costs significantly. This paper presents the modeling and designing of mooring systems for large WEC arrays and the calculation of the cost of each mooring system to determine the change in cost as the number of WECs in a farm increases. A baseline mooring system for a single floating oscillating water column (OWC) WEC was developed for this analysis. The mooring system utilizes four anchored mooring lines connected to a square assembly of wire rope mooring lines, supported by four floating buoys, and attached to the floating WEC by four polyester rope mooring lines. This assembly, referred to as a floating cell, can be tiled to form various rectangular WEC arrays. The objective of this analysis is to determine how the mooring system cost changes as more WECs are added to an array layout, each with their own interconnected floating cell. To do this, complete mooring systems need to be designed for each WEC array layout. To narrow down the design space of a WEC array mooring system, a couple assumptions were made. It was assumed that the floating cell parameters of the baseline design were to stay constant across all floating cells in the WEC array. It was also assumed that the anchored mooring lines would be of the baseline configuration, a predominantly chain mooring line with a short section of polyester rope near the fairlead, and a drag-embedment anchor. These anchored lines were assumed to extend from the outer edges of the WEC array, inline with the headings of the wire rope mooring lines of the floating cells, or diagonal if extending from a corner of the WEC array. Full mooring systems were designed for 2xN and NxN WEC array layouts and efficiently simulated in the mooring dynamics simulation tool, MoorDyn, to ensure all dynamic constraints were met. The system costs were calculated and then refined by shortening unnecessary chain line lengths and reducing the chain diameters of the downstream anchored mooring lines. It was found that, in general, mooring system costs per WEC decrease when WECs are installed in an array. Compared to the baseline mooring system for a single WEC, the 2x3 mooring system array had the lowest mooring system cost per WEC, reducing the cost per WEC by 59%. The 3x3 and 4x4 array mooring systems also saw significant reductions in cost per WEC but had negligible cost savings between the two designs, primarily because the larger 4x4 mooring system requires larger chain diameters, which increases cost. These results provide an interesting glimpse into modeling, designing, and calculating the cost of mooring systems for large WEC arrays.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePresented at the International Conference on Ocean Energy, 18-20 October 2022, Basque Country, Spain

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5000-84183


  • cost
  • farm arrays
  • MoorDyn
  • OrcaFlex
  • shared moorings
  • wave energy


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