Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Making wave energy economic

In order to improve the prospect for wave energy, it is argued that only a small fraction of the average incident wave should be converted into useful energy, since an optimally designed wave energy converter (WEC) converts a maximum fraction of the incident wave energy in rather moderate seas only. Secondly, each WEC unit should be of a relatively small size. Thus a large wave power plant should consist of many equal mass produced units.

The design principles advocated have relatively less variation in the power output than there is in the natural wave energy transport. This reduces the required size of the short time energy store which, due to the variation of wave groups, is needed for WECs which deliver electricity to a grid. Because of the evening of the power variation, the primary mechanical energy delivered to the energy store has a higher quality, and hence higher value, than for similar larger WEC which operates at its full design capacity a smaller fraction of its lifetime, and hence has a less power evening ability. A larger and more costly WEC would produce more energy, however with increased power fluctuation.

A design study, including economic considerations, is required in order to determine the best design dimensions for a wave power plant with a given location and wave climate. The result of such a study will probably be a design where the design constraints come into play during a significant portion of the lifetime of the wave power plant. This necessarily means a relatively small size of the WECs.

Reported by

Universitetet i Trondheim
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