This report investigates the potential to generate electricity from ocean waves along California’s coastlines. The report’s main focus is on the assessment of the deep water wave energy resource. In addition, it assesses today’s technology options, economics, environmental impacts and permitting with respect to developing this resource. In order to achieve the above objectives, data from about 100 measurement station were assessed and statistics created suitable for wave energy conversion, a summary of which is represented in volume I and a compilation of representative result are presented in forms of a wave energy atlas for California in volume II. Literature reviews and targeted research was used to assess technology options, economics and environmental and regulatory issues.
California has over 1200 km of coastline, and the combined average annual deep water wave power flux is over 37,000 megawatts (MW) of which an upper limit of about 20% could be converted into electricity. This is sufficient for about 23% of California’s current electricity consumption. However, economics, environmental impacts, land-use and grid interconnection constraints will likely impose further limits to how much of the resource can be extracted. Although technology is still at a relatively immature stage, economic projections indicate that wave power could become cost-competitive over the long-term.