First region-wide technical and economic assessment of wave energy conversion in California

Waves are emerging as a promising source of renewable energy in coastal California. The development of this technology requires an understanding of the costs and benefits of the different technologies for wave-energy conversion, especially in a changing climate. University of Southern California (USC) Sea Grant funded a study that will address gaps in knowledge by providing the first region-wide assessment of the technological and economic feasibility of wave energy conversion in California. The study will generate future nearshore wave descriptions, considering projected climate changes, to identify the optimal location of technologies for wave energy conversion (WEC).

Key Results:

  • This study provides the first statewide comparison of nine WEC technologies 
  • Results show that the effects of climate change on wave power vary broadly from offshore to coastal locations 
  • The new generation of technologies, which are less dependent upon climate conditions, are more efficient and cost-effective in future modeling than old devices 
  • The comparison of technologies shows that some devices are most optimal in northern California locations


Project Impacts & Application:

  • Presented at American Geophysical Union Annual Meetings and an Ocean Sciences Meeting
  • All data are mapped by depth along the shore, and the data and tools for wave data analyses and research will soon be made publicly available
  • Findings are expected to be utilized by the California Energy Commission, the energy industry, and local coastal programs; the CA Ocean Protection Council has requested the results 


Principal Investigators:

  • Borja Reguero, Ph.D., University of California Santa Cruz 
  • Pelayo Menendez, Ph.D., University of California Santa Cruz 
  • Li Erikson, Ph.D., United States Geological Survey



California Ocean Protection Council, 2018-2021

Additional Info:

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