Overview & Benefits
While wave energy is not yet as mature as wind energy, it is quickly gaining ground and the cost of wave energy is lower than the historical cost of wind energy at comparable levels of maturity. Levelised Costs of Energy (LCoE) for wave energy in 2030 is estimated to be between EUR 113-226/MWh if deployment levels of more than 2 gigawatt (GW) are achieved (IRENA, 2014).
Wave Energy Potential
Global wave energy generation capacity is potentially as large as presently installed hydro power and likely larger than presently installed nuclear power.
Ireland and the UK (Cornwall & Scotland) have some of the highest generation capacity of wave resources in the world. Wave energy is measured in average power per unit crest length, e.g. kW/m or kW/km and annual averages are as high as 80kW/m in some locations.
Ireland has an estimated 850km long 50kW/m wave power contour (Irish Wave Energy Atlas, ESBI & SEAI). That is an installed power capacity input average of 42.5GW and an installed energy capacity input of 372.5TWh per annum.
The technically achievable electricity production from wave energy in Ireland is approximately equal to present consumption which stands at around 26TWh per annum.
It is estimated that the wave energy resource around the coast of the United Kingdom could meet 15% to 25% of current UK electricity demand. Related energy sales would be circa £2.5bn p.a. (excluding subsidies) and related technology and engineering sales would be circa £20-£30bn.
Since 2010, 11.3 MW of wave energy has already been installed in Europe, driven by testing opportunities and RD&I funding (Ocean Energy Europe, 2018).