Renewable energy generation technology is a promising option when traditional energy sources are under tremendous pressure from energy saving and environmental protection. Compared to other renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy, wave energy has higher energy density and greater potential. Site selection is the prerequisite for the initial implementation of the wave energy project in a region. It directly determines the economic and social benefits of future wave energy power generation.

This study is based on the development plan of wave energy power stations formulated by the Qingdao municipal government of China. It aims to identify the most suitable location for installing a wave energy power station by combining Geographical Information System (GIS) and Multi-Criteria Decision-Making (MCDM) methods. The exclusion criteria and evaluation criteria of the technical, economic and environmental aspects of site selection are considered. The reclassification tool in GIS is applied to normalize the criteria values and obtain operational data. Then, the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) and the group decision-making method are used in combination to determine the weight coefficients of evaluation criteria, considering the distinct opinions of different experts based on experts' weights. In alternative evaluation process, exclusion criteria are used to exclude unsuitable areas and obtain non-excluded areas; further the Weighted Linear Combination (WLC) method is employed to evaluate these non-excluded areas by combining normalized criteria values and criteria weights. Finally, the suitability index is calculated to describe the site suitability and further draw a five-level suitability map.

As a case study, the methodology is applied to Qingdao city (eastern China) to verify its feasibility and effectiveness. The results provide references for the construction of wave energy power stations in the sea near Qingdao. It may also provide some theoretical basis for the location of wave energy power station in other regions, and even the location of other marine energy power stations.

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