Extracting wave energy from seas has been proven to be very difficult although various technologies have been developed since 1970s. Among the proposed technologies, only few of them have been actually progressed to the advanced stages such as sea trials or pre-commercial sea trial and engineering. One critical question may be how we can design an efficient wave energy converter or how the efficiency of a wave energy converter can be improved using optimal and control technologies, because higher energy conversion efficiency for a wave energy converter is always pursued and it mainly decides the cost of the wave energy production.
In the first part of the investigation, some conventional optimal and control technologies for improving wave energy conversion are examined in a form of more physical meanings, rather than the purely complex mathematical expressions, in which it is hoped to clarify some confusions in the development and the terminologies of the technologies and to help to understand the physics behind the optimal and control technologies. And as a result of the understanding of the physics and the principles of the optima, a new latching technology is proposed, in which the latching duration is simply calculated from the wave period, rather than that based on future information/prediction, hence the technology could remove one of the technical barriers in implementing latching control technology. From the examples given in the context, this new latching control technology can achieve a phase optimum in regular waves, and hence significantly improve wave energy conversion. Further development on these latching control technologies in irregular waves can be found in the second part of the investigation.