With an estimated worldwide potential in the order of 1 TW, ocean waves provide a source of energy as a result of the interactions between the wind and the ocean surfaces. Ocean wave energy has the advantage of being reasonably predictable compared to some other renewable energy sources. However, the power output is pulsating with the double wave frequency.
Researchers at different places around the globe are investigating a large number of very different ocean wave energy converters. These ocean wave energy converters can be classified in different ways. A suitable way of classifying them is using their operating principle:
In the end, ocean wave energy converters will have to be evaluated based on the cost of energy of these devices. A good evaluation of the cost of energy is only possible after a period of research and development, construction of prototypes, and testing. At this point in time, however, that is not yet possible, because there are too many different devices.
The main challenge could be formulated as: How can we develop ocean wave energy converters that produce energy at an acceptable cost? This challenge includes two partly contradicting requirements:
- How can we develop ocean wave energy converters that are so sensitive to waves that they harvest a lot of energy?
- How can we develop ocean wave energy converters that are so robust that they can withstand the aggressive offshore environment, including that they are insensitive to waves that they can withstand storms?
Delft University of Technology was involved in the development of the Archimedes Wave Swing, a submerged pressure differential wave energy converter that has been built and tested off the coast of Portugal. Furthermore, Delft University of Technology is involved in the development of a bulged wave energy converter based on ElectroActive Polymers together with SBM Offshore.