Project SEAWEED and Stage Gate Metrics

Project SEAWEED – a structured approach to concept generation for wave energy


The WES programme is founded on its competitive, Stage gated technology development process. In turn, the success of the Stage Gate process is based on the availability of innovative and attractive concepts to enter stage one, and the ability to objectively assess technical quality and select the most promising technologies to progress through stage gates.

The WES process is continually being developed to steer the sector towards successful delivery of cost-effective wave energy generation. The key on-going activities are:

The industrial and research communities have so far provided a suite of promising technologies which are being funded by WES, however, the likelihood of success of these technologies and future, innovative designs will be maximised by introducing structured processes to drive concept creation.

Project SEAWEED is developing this structured approach to wave energy concept creation and selection.

By scanning the design space and using structured processes in the assessment of promising concepts, SEAWEED aims to ensure objectivity in concept generation. The methodology will combine the best structured approaches to innovation from offshore renewables and other sectors, adapted to form a bespoke toolset for the wave energy sector.

The scope of Project SEAWEED goes beyond the market for grid scale electricity generation, to consider the overall opportunity to achieve a return on investment from harnessing of ocean wave energy resources. 

SEAWEED will develop new tools and combine these with useful aspects of existing methods. An example of an existing method is TRIZ, the “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving”, for solving contradictions which could be used to widen the scope of existing resources and markets to systematically direct a developer towards the best solutions for a set of circumstances and constraints. As a package, the SEAWEED toolset will facilitate generation of concepts followed by the selection of attractive and achievable options. WES will use these outputs to guide future support mechanisms to ensure the best technologies progress into the later development stages.

WES is collaborating with the United States Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the SEAWEED project. The DOE has similar aspirations for the concept creation and assessment process which are being implemented through their Wave-SPARC programme. Collaboration between WES and the DOE enables sharing of knowledge and the opportunity to compare and contrast different solutions to the innovation challenges in this complex environment.

Stage Gate Metrics – an internationally accepted approach to evaluation of wave energy technologies

Metrics present a measure of success of a technology against its requirements. They can be used to support technology development programmes and facilitate selection of the most promising technologies. Metrics provide a clear route to demonstration of progress in the sector, thereby building confidence in the private investment community, expediting their engagement with a commercial wave energy industry.

To gain the full benefit of the ability to measure success and fund the most successful projects, it is imperative to have cross-sector, international approval of metrics so that everyone has the same understanding of what success in the wave energy industry looks like. This enables wave energy technologies to be demonstrated and compared globally.

Wave Energy Scotland has been involved in international collaboration for three reasons:

  • To allow comparisons across different support schemes, avoiding duplication of funding
  • To encourage collaboration between international bodies
  • To foster standardisation of the benchmarks of success in ocean energy

The collaboration so far has delivered two workshops on metrics:

  1. February 2016 workshop was a collaboration with WES and US DoE on “WEC technology requirement specification and performance metrics”
  2. September 2016 workshop was run by EERA Ocean Energy Joint Programme, Ocean ERA-NET and the International Energy Agency Ocean Energy Systems group, and facilitated by WES on “Stage Gate Metrics for Ocean Energy Technology Development.
  3. November 2017 workshop was with Ocean ERA-NET. This capitalised on the work from the previous two workshops to gain cross-sector approval of a set of metrics for ocean energy technology


These activities will form part of an engagement with the International Energy Agency’s Ocean Energy Systems group, which is delivering a package of work to drive global consensus on the approach to measurement of success in ocean energy technology development.

International Collaboration

Collaboration across the globe is central to the WES approach to wave energy concept creation, the use of metrics for assessment and selection of the best technologies. Engagement with the US DOE on Project SEAWEED and with EERA, OCEAN ERA-NET and the International Energy Agency are therefore key components of these work packages and will deliver the consistency, clarity and rigour required to successfully identify and support the most promising solutions to the challenge of exploiting the world’s abundant wave energy resources.