Surface gravity waves carry enormous amounts of energy over our oceans, and if their energy could be harvested to generate electricity, it could make a significant contribution to the worlds power demand. But the survivability of wave energy devices in harsh operating conditions has proven challenging, and for wave energy to be a possibility, peak forces during storms and extreme waves must be studied and the devices behaviour understood. Although the wave power industry has benefited from research and development in traditional offshore industries, there are important differences. Traditional offshore structures are designed to minimize power absorption and to have small motion response, while wave power devices are designed to maximize power absorption and to have a high motion response. This increase the difficulty of the already challenging survivability issue. Further, nonlinear effects such as turbulence and overtopping can not be neglected in harsh operating conditions. In contrast to traditional offshore structures, it is also important to correctly account for the power take off system in a wave energy converter (WEC), as it is strongly coupled to the devices behaviour.
The focus in this thesis is the wave loads and the peak forces that occur when a WEC with a limited stroke length is operated in waves higher than the maximum stroke length. The studied WEC is developed at Uppsala University, Sweden, and consists of a linear generator at the seabed that is directly driven by a surface buoy. A fully nonlinear CFD model is developed in the finite volume software OpenFOAM, and validated with physical wave tank experiments. It is then used to study the motion and the forces on the WEC in extreme waves; high regular waves and during tsunami events, and how the WECs behaviour is influenced by different generator parameters, such as generator damping, friction and the length of the connection line. Further, physical experiments are performed on full scale linear generators, measuring the total speed dependent damping force that can be expected for different loads. The OpenFOAM model is used to study how the measured generator behaviour affects the force in the connection line.