Offshore wind farm operations and maintenance costs currently total 6 m€/year, or 25–28% of total costs. For wave and tidal energy converters, this cost is projected to be twice that of offshore wind, but has high levels of uncertainty. As the wave and tidal energy industries mature, decreasing O&M costs through reliability-based design optimization is critical to increasing feasibility and competitiveness with other energy technologies. In this paper, we will synthesize existing information on reliability-based optimization in systems analogous to offshore renewable energy systems. We will conclude by highlighting opportunities for future work in this field.