Santa Barbara, California
Project Term:
08/12/2021 - 08/11/2024

Critical Need:

Significant technical and environmental barriers make current Hydrokinetic Turbines (HKT) systems prohibitively expensive. Hydrokinetic energy systems’ low technical readiness calls for a system-level approach that will include hydrodynamics, structural dynamics, control systems, power electronics, grid connections, and performance optimization, while minimizing potential negative environmental effects and maximizing system reliability. The challenging, multi-disciplinary nature of this design space means many systems haven’t moved beyond the theoretical design phase. Submarine Hydrokinetic And Riverine Kilo-megawatt Systems (SHARKS) aims to use control co-design (CCD), co-design (CD), and designing for operation and maintenance (DFO) methodologies to develop radically new HKTs for tidal and riverine applications that drastically reduce the levelized cost of energy (LCOE). This program aims to address industry-wide limitations to provide economical hydrokinetic power at micro-grid and utility scale.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

The Tidal Power Tug is a tidal hydrokinetic turbine using a vertical yawing spar buoy with a horizontal-axis, parallel-flow rotor. The turbine will achieve stable, safe operation in all sea conditions with unprecedented cost performance gained by use of novel materials, vertical mass-buoyancy distribution, high power-to-weight ratio, efficient deployment/retrieval, adaptive controls for blade pitch and shear compensation, and advanced analytical tools for efficient operations and maintenance. These factors will result in high turbine up-time. R&D involves structural material innovation, hydrodynamic modeling, coding the adaptive controller, designing O&M analytical tools, and designing and deploying a prototype turbine in a tidal stream. The turbine will be designed for power delivery to remote and local grids. It will operate autonomously, with a remote supervisory control and data acquisition computer providing data analysis and operator input to the onboard controller. The control system will be able to prioritize maintaining the lowest cost of energy, increasing component life and maximum available energy.

Potential Impact:

Hydrokinetic energy is an abundant renewable energy source that presents unique opportunities and benefits.


Diverse renewable energy resources can boost grid resiliency and reduce infrastructure vulnerabilities.


HKTs, used to capture energy from tides, rivers, canals, and ocean currents, optimize a clean, renewable power source that could help reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.


Hydrokinetic energy has applications beyond solely providing power to electrical grids. It is ideally suited to the emerging technologies and markets built upon ocean- and riverine-based infrastructure, including climatological observation, aquaculture, desalination, ocean floor and seawater mining, disaster recovery, powering isolated communities, and autonomous underwater vehicle support.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Mario Garcia-Sanz
Project Contact:
Mr. Peter Stricker
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

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