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Ocean and Wave Power. Adam Henry Wesley Chicago Kent College of Law awesley@kentlaw.edu ahwesley@comcast.net May, 2007. Ocean and Wave Power. Why Ocean and Wave Power? Technological Feasibility Cost competitiveness (measured against fossil fuels). Advantages of Offshore Ocean Wave Power.

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Ocean and Wave Power

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Ocean and Wave Power

Adam Henry Wesley

Chicago Kent College of Law



May, 2007

Ocean and Wave Power

  • Why Ocean and Wave Power?

  • Technological Feasibility

  • Cost competitiveness (measured against fossil fuels)

Advantages of Offshore Ocean Wave Power

  • Clean renewable source of energy

  • Nearly unlimited

  • More Predictable than wind and sun

  • Little environmental impact

  • Not visible from shore

  • Proximity to markets needing electricity

World Coastal Population

  • 50% of the world's population currently live within sixty kilometers of the coast

  • By 2008, the world population will exceed 6.7 billion people

  • 3.4 billion living on coast

Potential World-Wide Wave Energy

  • IEA (International Energy Agency) estimates that wave energy can supply between 10 and 50% of world demand

  • World demand of 15,000 TWh

World Energy Council Estimates

  • 2 terawatts of clean and accessible ocean energy

  • Equivalent to twice the world’s current electricity generation

World Energy Council 2001 Survey estimates

  • 2 TW of exploitable wave power worldwide

  • 50% of the total European power consumption could be generated from European coastal waters

Independent market assessment of wave energy economic contribution to electricity market

  • Estimated 2,000 TWh/year

  • 10% of world electricity consumption

  • Equal to current world-wide large scale hydroelectric projects

U.S. Coastal Population Trends

  • 17% of U.S. land is home to more than half of the nation's population.

  • 53 % of U.S population, (153 million people) lived on the U.S. coast. In 2003

  • A 28% increase (33 million people)since 1980.

U.S. Coastal Population Trends

  • in 2003, 23 of the 25 most densely populated counties were coastal

  • By the year 2008, coastal county population is expected to increase by approximately 7 million

U.S Coastal Estimates

  • 2,300 Terawatt-hours per year or;

  • $80.5 billion annually

California Energy Commission Estimates

  • California’s 1,100-mile coastline could generate:

    • seven to 17 megawatts a mile,

    • enough power per mile to serve 13,000 homes

  • Several hundred square miles off the California coast could supply all the homes in the state.

Technological Maturity

  • Systems past proof of concept, deployed, and grid connected

    • AquaBuOY

    • Archimedes Wave Swing

    • Pelamis

    • Wave Dragon

Proving Grounds

  • European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney

  • Established to commercialize marine energy

  • National Grid Connection

    • Wave and tidal energy converters are connected via seabed cables running from open-water test berths

Based at Stromness in Orkney


Finavera Renewables CEO outlines ‘huge potential’ of ocean wave energy in address to United States Congressional Committee

“My message to you today is simple: Ocean renewable energy’s time has come. This is not pie in the sky. We have three wave energy projects under development in California, Oregon, and Washington, and we are in discussions about others. These are not just paper projects. We are literally weeks away from issuing contracts that will put US steelworkers to work constructing our prototype wave energy buoy, which we are going to install off the coast of Newport, Oregon this summer.”

Finavera Renewables AquaBuOY

  • 1MW pilot plant in Makah Bay, Washington State, USA

  • 100MW staged power project in Portugal

  • 20MW staged project in South Africa

  • Pilot project in BC, Canada

U.S. Projects

  • Finavera Renewables Makah Bay, Washington State

  • 1 MW demonstration plant.

  • 1500 MWh/year expected generation

  • Powering 150 homes a year

Archimedes Wave Swing or “AWS” AWS Ocean Energy

Device Specifications

  • Each AWS:

    • 800 ton 39 x 98 foot cylinder

    • tethered to the seabed by cables 20 feet below the surface of the sea

How it works

  • The AWS wave energy converter is a cylinder shaped buoy

  • Moored to the seabed

  • Passing waves move an air-filled upper casing against a lower fixed cylinder

  • The up and down movement converted into electricity

wave power station

Utility Scale Power Generation?

  • Continuous average output of up to 1MW in a rough sea (Northern Atlantic)

  • Power output similar to one large wind turbine

  • A 50MW farm will occupy 3 nautical miles long by 2 cables wide.

  • Enough electricity for 25,000 homes.

Utility Level Power

  • Each AWS unit is currently rated at 1.2 Megawatts

  • Power approximately 2,000 households

  • 50 AWS units would produce utility scale power in a small footprint

  • 1/3 the area required by current wind and solar

Utility Scale Power

  • AWS plans to create a 100-machine wave park at a cost of £250 million

  • Power production should exceed 100 MW

How long before utility scale deployment?

  • First AWS machine will be installed in Orkney in 2007

  • First mini wave farm of Scottish waters by 2010

  • Expanding within 12 months to 20 units

Requirements for a wave farm

  • Exposure to ocean swells,

  • Water depth of 80-90m

  • Near commercial shipping lanes

  • Industrial port within 12 sailing hours

  • Sea-bed where power cables can be laid to shore


  • Not visible (sub surface)

  • Durability (one moving part)

  • No or minimal environmental damage

  • Scalability (limited only by suitable conditions)


  • Units can be installed in close proximity land to reduce:

    • the cost of installation,

    • maintenance and

    • power loss in the underwater cable to grid

Pelamis Wave Generator Power System(Ocean Power Delivery)

Ocean Power Delivery (Pelamis)

  • Pelamis has a similar output to a modern wind turbine

  • Full-scale prototype is operational

  • Tested at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney.

  • A typical 30MW installation would occupy a square kilometer of ocean and provide sufficient electricity for 20,000 homes

  • Twenty farms could power a city such as Edinburgh

Large Pelamis Projects

  • World's biggest commercial wave project (Coast of Scotland)

  • Four Pelamis machines

  • Deployment next 12 months.

Utility Scale Power?

  • The Orkney wave farm will generate three megawatts of electricity

  • Will power about 3,000 homes

Pelamis Offshore Wave Energy in Portugal

  • 28 wave power devices will be installed in Portugal within a year

  • Generating 22.5 megawatts of electricity

  • The project is supported by state run power company Energias de Portugal.

Competitive Price Requirements(wave power level of 15 kw per meter)

Ocean Power Technologies

PowerBuoy® systems

How it works

  • The PowerBuoy is based on modular, ocean-going buoys

  • The PowerBuoy™ is mounted on the sea bottom using anchoring system

  • Ocean tested for nearly a decade.

Completed Testing

  • PowerBuoy™ in operation in Hawaii

  • PowerBuoy™ off the coast of New Jersey

U.S. Deployment Wave Park Douglas County Reedsport, Oregon

  • As part of the initial program, OPT expects to install its ocean-tested PowerBuoy® systems initially generating a total of 2 MW

  • 2.5 miles off the coast at a depth of 50 meters

  • Preliminary permit by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for up to 50 MW system

Utility Scale Deployment

  • Petitioning the state of New Jersey for permission to install a 100 MW PowerBuoy™ plant off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey

Ocean Wave Generating Costs

  • The total operating cost of generating power from an OPT wave power station including maintenance and operating expenses, as well as the amortized capital cost of the equipment:

  • projected (US) 3-4¢/ kWh for 100MW

  • (US) 7-10¢/kWh for 1MW plants,.


  • Large government backed utility scale projects coming online

  • Portugal

  • Scotland

  • UK

Wave Dragon

Operating Principle

Wave Dragon

  • Floating, slack-moored energy converter of the overtopping type

  • Deployed in a single unit or in arrays

  • Power plant capacity comparable to traditional fossil based power plants.

Utility Level Power

  • 4 MW when deployed in a relatively low-energy (24 kW/m) wave climate

  • 7 MW when deployed in a 36 kW/m climate


  • Combines existing, mature offshore and hydro turbine technology in a novel way

  • Freely up-scaled

  • Maintenance can be carried out at sea leading to low O&M cost relatively to other concepts

  • Most tested offshore Wave Energy Converter (WEC) technology in the world


  • The prototype activities has established the necessary knowledge to deploy a full-scale Wave Dragon in 2007

Large Scale Deployments

  • 50 MW wave farm Portugal

  • Awarded a major R&D contract with the European Commission (Multi-MW Unit)

Economic Viability

  • Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) suggests that generation of electricity from wave energy may be economically feasible in the near future

  • In 2006 the Carbon Trust issued a report that identified that marine energy could provide a fifth of the UK’s current electricity needs and be cost-competitive with conventional generation

  • The cost of wind energy have fallen by ~80% over the past two decades

  • Opening costs for wave power:

    • half wind energy’s opening costs

    • a quarter the current cost of solar

Government Backing

  • Several countries have either installed or are about to install full-scale prototypes

  • Funds in excess of 70 million euros have been committed to these installations

Government Projections

  • The Scottish Executive's Forum for Renewable Energy Development in Scotland (FREDS) Marine Energy Group report:

  • potential for 7000 jobs in marine energy by 2020,

  • 10% of Scotland's electricity being supplied by marine energy

  • supplying more than 100MW per annum to export markets

  • (see:http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Business Industry/infrastructure/19185/20368).

Compelling arguments for investing in offshore wave energy technology.

  • Environmentally benign ways to generate electricity

  • Little or no (NIMBY) issues that plague many energy infrastructure projects

    • Wave energy devices are generally not visible from shore

  • Wave energy is more predictable than solar and wind energy

  • High power density

    • (Solar and wind energy is concentrated into ocean waves)

    • easier and cheaper to harvest

Risks and Drawbacks

  • While wave energy is renewable and nonpolluting, it does raise environmental and safety issues. These include:

  • 1. disturbance or destruction of marine life, including changes in the distribution and types of marine life near the shore;

  • 2. possible threat to navigation from collisions due to the low profile of the wave energy devices above the water, making them undetectable either by direct sighting or by radar;

  • 3. interference with mooring and anchorage lines with commercial and sport-fishing; and

  • 4. degradation of ocean front views by wave energy devices located near or on the shore, and from onshore overhead electric transmission lines.

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