Revisiting Theoretical Limits for One-Degree-of-Freedom Wave Energy Converters: Preprint

Nathan Tom

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This work revisits the theoretical limits of one-degree of freedom wave energy converters (WECs). This paper considers the floating sphere used in the Ocean Energy Systems (OES) Task 10 Wave Energy Converter modeling and verification effort for analysis. Analytical equations are derived to determine bounds on the motion amplitude, time-averaged power, and power take-off (PTO) force. A unique result was found that shows the time-averaged power absorbed by a WEC can be defined solely by the inertial properties and the radiation hydrodynamic coefficients. In addition, a unique expression for the PTO force amplitude was derived which has provided upper and lower bounds when resistive control is used to maximize power generation. For complex conjugate control, this same expression can only provide a lower bound as there is theoretically no upper bound. These bounds are used to compare the performance of a floating sphere if it were to extract energy using surge or heave motion. The analysis shows that because of the differences in hydrodynamic coefficients of each oscillating mode there will be different frequency ranges that provide better power capture efficiency. The influence of a motion constraint on power absorption while also utilizing a nonideal power take-off is examined and found to reduce the losses associated with bidirectional energy flow. The expression to calculate the time-averaged power with a nonideal PTO is modified by the mechanical-to-electrical efficiency and the ratio of the PTO spring and damping coefficients. These were separated in the expression which allows for limits to be set on the possible values of PTO coefficients to ensure a net flow of power to the grid.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2020
Event14th International Conference on Energy Sustainability -
Duration: 17 Jun 202018 Jun 2020


Conference14th International Conference on Energy Sustainability

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5000-77934 for paper as published in proceedings

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5000-75701


  • wave energy converters


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