Geospatial Analysis of Technical U.S. Wave Net Power Potential

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Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Developing new technologies to utilize natural renewable energy resources and fluxes is critical to mitigate climate change and energy crisis. As a renewable energy resource, wave energy is more predictable and has a higher power density compared to solar and wind. However, the technology for wave energy harvesting is still relatively nascent. One of the major challenges as the sector developers is the lack of spatial–temporal representation of wave resources, or wave power generation, from a generic WEC. This paper proposes a novel Wave Net Power Assessment (WNPA) method by utilizing the theoretical Wave Energy Converter (WEC) power limits (including the radiation power limits, Budal's limit, and gross wave power), and applies it to a decade of wave conditions across the USA East Coast, West Coast and Hawaiian Islands. The WNPA method assesses the wave resource from device point of view (unlike traditional gross wave resource assessment) and is generally applicable to WECs regardless of dimension, size, and degrees of freedom (DoFs). The geospatial application of the WNPA method allowed for the analysis of wave power production potential along U.S. coastlines and provides WEC developers meaningful data to make decisions about the best spatial region to deploy certain WECs. Numerical simulations are conducted for WECs with 5 different sizes, 3 different operating modes across the West Coast, East Coast, and Hawaii over 10 years. In addition, productivity, efficiency and gross power quality comparisons are made in terms of the size and degree-of-freedom for WECs deployed at certain ocean sites (e.g., PacWave). A few of the most important findings: (1) The net wave power is dramatically smaller than the gross wave power, which indicates the new WNPA method has a more conservative assessment of the wave power potential; (2) A heaving 10 m WEC is found to have the highest (compared to other sizes and degrees of freedom) absorption efficiency on the West Coast and Hawaii; (3) For smaller 2 m surging/pitching WECs, ocean sites on the East Coast (e.g., Diamond Shoals, NC) maximize power production. (4) There are distinct trade-offs between maximizing power or minimizing power quality and dependencies exists between the location of interest, the WEC size, and the priority degree of freedom. The proposed methodology can be utilized by WEC technology and project developers to conduct apriori preliminary analysis of WEC deployment locations and device characteristics.

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Renewable Energy