ABSTRACT

This paper presents results from an investigation of global wave energy resources derived from analysis of wave climate predictions generated by the WAVEWATCH-III (NWW3) wind-wave model (Tolman, 2002) spanning the 10 year period from 1997 to 2006. The methodology that was followed to obtain these new results is described in detail. The spatial and temporal variations of the global wave energy resource are presented and described. Several parameters to describe and quantify the temporal variation of wave energy resources are presented and discussed. The new results are also validated through comparisons with energy estimates from buoy data and previous studies.

INTRODUCTION

Global warming, the Kyoto protocol, the depletion of conventional energy reserves and the rising cost of electricity generation have sparked renewed interest in renewable marine energy in many countries. Significant advances in wave energy converters have been made in recent years, and there is a growing realization in many countries, particularly those in Europe, that these technologies will be ready for large scale deployments within the next five to ten years. Despite these exciting developments, the potential wave energy resource in many parts of the world remains poorly defined. Pontes et al. (1997) observed that since the mid-1980s, numerical windwave models had been routinely producing good quality wave estimates and noted that these estimates are of great value for the assessment of offshore wave energy resources. They assessed the performance of two wind-wave models through comparison against buoy data, and selected the WAM model for use in the development of the WERATLAS, an atlas of European offshore wave energy resources. The WERATLAS is described in Pontes (1998). It includes a wide range of annual and seasonal wave climate and wave energy statistics for 85 offshore data points distributed along the Atlantic and Mediterranean European coasts.

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