New Developments and Capabilities Within WEC-Sim: Paper No. OMAE2023-105030

Nathan Tom, Kelley Ruehl, Adam Keester, Dominic Forbush, David Ogden, Jorge Leon, Salman Husain, Jeff Grasberger, Mathew Topper, Yi-Hsiang Yu

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


WEC-Sim is an open-source software for simulating wave energy converters and has been actively developed and applied since its initial release in 2014 to simulate a wide variety of device archetypes. WEC-Sim is developed jointly by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories within the MATLAB/SIMULINK environment. A general wave-to-wire model begins with a deployment site resource characterization, which is used to complete the hydrodynamic simulation of wave energy converters (WEC), with the power generation profile imported to a grid simulator to understand the influence on the local electrical network. While modeling the entire wave-to-wire is difficult and encompasses multiple time scales and physics, WEC-Sim is focused on the hydrodynamics simulation to predict, analyze, and optimize WEC dynamics and power performance. WEC-Sim simulations are performed in the time domain based on the radiation and diffraction method using hydrodynamics coefficients derived from boundary element method (BEM)-based frequency-domain potential flow solvers (e.g., WAMIT, NEMOH, Capytaine, or ANSYS-AQWA). With this level of modeling fidelity, WEC-Sim can handle floating body hydrodynamics, mechanical and electrical power generation methods, advanced control implementation, mooring systems, and other unique applications such as desalination. Additional WEC-Sim functionalities include pre-built Simulink blocks and MATLAB scripts that can simulate a wide range of floating systems and the corresponding auxiliary subsystems. The developers of WEC-Sim continue to release new versions of the software, at least annually, with the latest release in September 2022. These releases include bug fixes, updates to software documentation, as well as new features to expand WEC-Sim's capabilities to model a wide range of WEC concepts. This publication will highlight the new features added to WEC-Sim between versions 4.1.0 to 5.0.1, which spans a 2-year period from June 2020 to September 2022. New features described here include topics such as continuous integration checks, revised Morison Element and nonlinear hydro implementations, run directly from Simulink (required for hardware-in-the-loop execution), BEMIO updates to import Capytaine BEM hydrodynamics, addition of cable blocks, and new wave visualization features.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2023
EventASME 2023 42nd International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering - Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 11 Jun 202316 Jun 2023


ConferenceASME 2023 42nd International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering
CityMelbourne, Australia

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5700-85027 for preprint

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5700-87981


  • wave energy
  • wave energy converter
  • WECSim


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