Wave Resource Assessments: Spatiotemporal Impacts of WEC Size and Wave Spectra on Power Conversion

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Wave energy has the potential to power significant portions of economies around the world. Standard International Electrotechnical Commission methods for determining wave energy quantifies the gross wave resource available in the ocean, yet a significant portion of this resource is not usable by specific wave energy converters (WECs). This can provide a misleading assessment of the spatiotemporal opportunities for wave energy in deployment locations. Therefore, there is a need to develop a new technique to assess potential wave power from a device point of view that is generally applicable across WEC sizes. To address this challenge, a novel net power assessment methodology is proposed, which implements Budal’s upper bound (which describes the power available to a WEC based on its stroke), the radiation power limit (which describes the maximum radiation-based amount of wave power a WEC can absorb), and total gross incident wave power as absorbable power upper bounds. Spatiotemporal opportunities for WECs were re-evaluated based on this new technique. Numerical simulations were conducted to quantify the net wave resource available for different sized WECs (1, 2, 5, 10) at five different ocean sites in the U.S. based on wave data. The simulation results show the predicted potential wave power through the net power assessment for a 5 m device is 0.8% of the International Electrotechnical Commission assessment results at PacWave, Oregon. For the monthly average power, the results show PacWave has the most energetic wave resource (up to 406 kW in January) and WETS, Hawaii, has the steadiest wave power available (maximum COV of 0.8) among the sites. Regarding the size of the devices, results show that larger devices (e.g., 10 m) have better performance in terms of both magnitude and steadiness of power available at WETS and Los Angeles, California. Finally, the wave power potential of different sized WECs at varying locations was compared at a 3-h resolution. The maximum instantaneous power available for a 1 and 10 m device at PacWave throughout the time period was 47.8 and 3.52 × 103 kW, respectively.

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