A wave energy converter must be designed to both maximize power production and to ensure survivability, which requires the prediction of future sea states. It follows that precision in the prediction of those sea states should be important in determining a final WEC design. One common method used to estimate extreme conditions employs environmental contours of extreme conditions. This report compares five environmental contour methods and their repercussions on the response analysis of Reference Model 3 (RM3). The most extreme power take-off (PTO) force is predicted for the RM3 via each contour and compared to identify the potential difference in WEC response due to contour selection. The analysis provides insight into the relative performance of each of the contour methods and demonstrates the importance of an environmental contour in predicting extreme response. Ideally, over-predictions should be avoided, as they can add to device cost. At the same time, any “exceedances,” that is to say sea states that exceed predictions of the contour, should be avoided so that the device does not fail. For the extreme PTO force response studied here, relatively little sensitivity to the contour method is shown due to the collocation of the device's resonance with a region of agreement between the contours. However, looking at the level of observed exceedances for each contour may still give a higher level of confidence to some methods.

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