Shifting wave energy perceptions: the case for Wave Energy Converter (WEC) feasibility at milder resources

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Wave energy can provide significant benefits as renewables acquire more share in electricity production. So far, focus for the development of wave energy is given to areas with resources ≥ 25 kW/m, with moderate resources often not considered. Furthermore, waves have larger uncertainties associated with diverse portfolio of converters leading to higher Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCoE). This study challenges the notion of economic viability for moderate resources, therefore the methodology and results of this analysis are globally applicable. Several different types of wave converters suggest multi-zonal applicability, underlying the dependence on the diverse wave energy resource that can be harvested. It is clear that different zones favour alternative converters, common characteristic is that all have nominal capacity below 1 MW. Optimally selected converters, attain capacity factors over 30%, with LCoE depending more on discount rate-capital pairs, mean LCoE values are from 150 to 250/MWh with lowest value 60 €/MWh. Investment amortisation also depends on resource and LCoE pairs with an offshore wave farm able to retrieve its capital in 3.8 years (optimal case), 10 years (average). Projects with ≥3 Million €/MW and a higher risk discount of 10% are viable only for high performing devices with capacity factors ≥40%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1143-1155
Number of pages13
JournalRenewable Energy
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Wave energy converters
  • Energy economics
  • LCOE levelised cost of electricity
  • North Sea
  • Capacity factor


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