Knowledge of the effects of wave energy converters (WECs) on the near and far wave fields is critical to the efficient and low-risk design of waveforms. Several computational wave models enable the evaluation of WEC array effects, but model validation has been limited. In this chapter, we validate two popular models with very different formulations: the phase-resolving model WAMIT and the phase-averaged Simulating WAves Nearshore (SWAN) model. The models are validated against wave data from an extensive set of WEC array laboratory experiments conducted by Oregon State University and Columbia Power Technologies, Inc (CPT). The experimental WECs were 1:33 scale versions of a commercial device (CPT “Manta”), and several different WEC array configurations were subjected to a range of regular waves and random sea states. The wave field in the lee of the WEC arrays was mapped, and the wave shadow was quantified for all sea states. In addition, the WEC power capture performance was measured independently via a motion-tracking system and compared to the observed wave energy deficit (i.e., the wave shadow). Overall, WAMIT displays skill in predicting the wave field both in offshore and in the lee of the WEC arrays. WAMIT simulations demonstrate partial standing wave patterns that are consistent with the observations. These patterns are related to wave scattering processes, and their presence increases the magnitude of the wave shadow in the lee of WECs . The pattern is less pronounced at longer wave periods where WECs behave more like wave followers. In these situations, the wave shadow is primarily controlled by the WEC energy capture and less so by scattering. The SWAN model accounts for the frequency-dependent energy capture of the devices and performs well for cases when the wave shadow is primarily controlled by the WEC energy capture. For regular wave cases, inclusion of the wave diffraction process is necessary, but SWAN simulations for wave fields with frequency and directional spreading capture the general character of the wave shadow even without diffraction. Finally, we suggest that WECs designed to operate such that the expected significant wave energy lies at periods near, or larger than, the period of peak energy extraction will minimize the wave shadow effect for a given gross extraction of wave energy, which leads to more efficient arrays with respect to environmental impact.
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