Technical Integrity / Collaboration / Exceptional Results

Study in Renewable Energy Shows How Wave Energy Costs Can Be Reduced

Renewable Energy

WEC device: photo courtesy of Sea Engineering, Inc.

Wave energy could fulfill more than a quarter of U.S. total annual energy needs; however, the economics of wave energy converter (WEC) technologies are currently not cost competitive. Integral scientists Grace Chang, Ph.D., and Craig Jones, Ph.D., are the lead authors of a recent study, now available online in the journal Renewable Energy, that evaluated the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for different wave energy conversion strategies and examined cost reduction pathways.

As part of the study, the energy production and LCOE of six different WEC device archetypes were evaluated for four U.S. Pacific coast locations. Results showed that energy production of the various WEC devices can differ by two orders of magnitude and that device capacity factors are generally well below the assumed value of 30 ± 5 percent. The low capacity factors contribute to the relatively high LCOE estimated for pilot-scale WEC projects. Cost reduction pathways for WEC projects should include long-term baseline wave monitoring for resource characterization and device and device array optimization, control strategies to improve annual energy production, and substantial (>50 percent) decreases in capital and operational expenditures.

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For more information on this article, or on Integral’s renewable energy services, contact Dr. Chang at

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