Project Overview

With increasing urgency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a broad range of renewable energy sources are beginning to be utilised, including energy from the ocean.

Ocean energy, also known as marine energy, encompasses engineering technologies, such as tidal and wave devices, that harness the movements of the ocean to create electricity and/or potable water. Such developments are not new. In fact, the first ocean energy technologies were developed over 100 years ago, which leads to the key question of why aren’t ocean energy technologies fully commercialised after all this time? The answer is cost.

The cost of producing electricity by wave technologies, otherwise referred to as ‘wave energy converters’ (WEC’s), is influenced by how efficiently an individual device operates. The goal is to maximise the amount of energy captured and converted from the ocean environment.

In a dedicated research project, a team from the University of Western Australia (UWA) and CorPower Ocean (CPO) is tackling WEC performance improvements through development of novel efficient numerical models to more accurately represent the forces that waves exert on WECs.

Combining hydrodynamic research expertise and detailed insight into full-scale WEC operational principles, the project looks to drive down the cost of wave energy facilitating growth and utilisation of WEC technologies.


Phase 1: Laboratory experiments. Planning and execution of high-precision model-scale wave flume experiments designed to isolate non-linear dynamic features through careful post-processing and analysis of the data.

Phase 2: Numerical model development. Identification of dominant nonlinear hydrodynamic effects from the laboratory measurements. Establishing methodology for their simplified representation in efficient partially nonlinear numerical models.

Phase 3: Validation using field data. Simulation of WEC behaviour and evaluation of the non-linear modelling strategies through a unique comparison with CPO’s fully instrumented full-scale ocean deployment. Quantification of improvements and knowledge sharing with industry.

Why is this initiative needed? 

How does this project meet its objectives?

Numerical modelling underpins much of wave energy device engineering design. Advances in numerical modelling that incorporate large WEC motions provide a promising path to reducing the cost of energy production

Numerical model advancement is normally undertaken by academia. A further innovation of this project is the collaborative industry/academia approach to development and implementation of the new models in full-scale WEC deployment. Most importantly, the results are fed back to the industry at large.


Project Start – January 2022

Project completion – December 2023

Current Status

The UWA team has completed Phase 1 of the project. A large experimental campaign was conducted in UWA Coastal and Offshore Engineering Lab, which contains a 54m long wave flume tank. In a simulated ocean environment, wave forces on a fixed and a moving sphere (mimicking CPO’s device design) were measured.

Whom we are working with?