The wave energy resource for U.S. coastal regions has been estimated at approximately 1,200 TWh/yr (EPRI 2011). The magnitude is comparable to the natural gas and coal energy generation. Although the wave energy industry is relatively new from a commercial perspective, wave energy conversion (WEC) technology is developing at an increasing pace. Ramping up to commercial scale deployment of WEC arrays requires demonstration of performance that is economically competitive with other energy generation methods. The International Electrotechnical Commission has provided technical specifications for developing wave energy resource assessments and characterizations, but it is ultimately up to developers to create pathways for making a specific site competitive.
The present study uses example sites to evaluate the annual energy production using different wave energy conversion strategies and examines pathways available to make WEC deployments competitive. The wave energy resource is evaluated for sites along the U.S. coast and combinations of wave modeling and basic resource assessments determine factors affecting the cost of energy at these sites. The results of this study advance the understanding of wave resource and WEC device assessment required to evaluate commercial-scale deployments.