Understanding the Uncertainty in the Technical Performance Level Assessment for Wave Energy

Ali Trueworthy, Aeron Roach, Bryony DuPont, Thomas Mathai, Jesse Roberts, Jochem Weber, Robert Preus, Benjamin Maurer

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In recent years, the design and development of wave energy converters (WECs) has been explored with intense interest, with highly varying design concepts emerging globally across both research enterprises and industry. The design space for WECs is vast - many concepts ranging in functionality, control systems, power development systems, materials, and scale have been ideated and prototyped, but WEC technology has yet to converge. One critical element of the technology trajectory that governs the speed of adoption is the performance of a WEC concept. In analogous but more-established industries (such as aerospace, and environmentally sustainable electronics design), performance assessment is a quantitative method, based on historical data, that is used as an iterative tool to improve the design of these systems early on in the design process. Though more nascent than these approaches, in wave energy R&D, WEC performance has been assessed using the Technology Performance Level (TPL) assessment, which provides designers with a quantitative score, situating a grid-scale WEC concept on a scale from 1-9 (1 being the lowest performance, and 9 being the highest, trending with the oft-used Technology Readiness Level, or TRL). The TPL assessment is designed to be used during design iteration, when a WEC concept is fully ideated, to enable designers to consider potential means of improving the downstream performance of the concept. One concern that may be slowing the adoption of TPL among WEC developers is the inherent uncertainty in the assessment, and how uncertainty in the individual questions asked as part of the assessment may contribute to perceived inaccuracies in the final score. In this work, we explore the uncertainty present in the assessment and quantify this uncertainty using both traditional mathematical operations and a Monte Carlo simulation. Results imply areas of improvement of the TPL assessment, where reducing uncertainty will be most helpful to end users, enabling both TPL practitioners and users to understand with more accuracy those design elements that can be improved to impact device performance most substantively.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2023
EventUniversity Marine Energy Research Community (UMERC) - Durham, New Hamshire, United States
Duration: 4 Oct 20236 Oct 2023


ConferenceUniversity Marine Energy Research Community (UMERC)
CityDurham, New Hamshire, United States

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5700-83136


  • techno-economic analysis
  • wave energy
  • wave energy converter design and analysis


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