Ocean waves’ energy represents a major renewable energy resource to which Portugal has a considerable potential, due to its favorable geographical location and its high energetic wave climate. A fundamental part of wave energy conversion is the design process of the energy transfer mechanism from the ocean surface gravity waves to the energy converter device. Existing devices usually work near the water surface where most of the wave energy is concentrated. This way, the knowledge of the vertical distribution of the wave kinetic energy may be of interest in this design process.
A methodology has been developed to evaluate the wave kinetic energy distribution as a function of depth level from the velocity components, allowing detail achievement on the analysis of the wave action. This concept has already been applied and verified for regular waves, using laboratory measurements. The obtained results encouraged an extension to irregular wave fields, to which the traditional method used in the evaluation of the energy per unit wave length is not applicable. In this paper, numerically simulated specific kinetic energy profiles will be compared with values calculated from measured velocity components, giving special attention to depth levels higher than minimum water surface elevation.