The USA is expanding its wave energy research across the entire US Exclusive Economic Zone to help unlock the full potential of ocean energy.
Studies are underway in Alaska and Hawaii with additional work in the offing for the US Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Pacific Islands.
It builds on one of the world’s leading wave energy studies conducted by the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), focusing on the northwest Pacific coast.
Using more than 30 years of climate data, scientists reconstructed past waves to estimate power output potential across more than 1000 miles of coastline.
The resulting dataset is publicly available, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office, allowing stakeholders to pinpoint ‘hotspots’ or specific locations suitable for wave energy harvesting.
The findings are significant as all three states push for ambitious green energy policies, with California and Washington committing to producing 100 percent clean energy by 2045, and Oregon targeting 50 percent clean energy by 2040.
PNNL’s high-resolution model depicts coastal features and wave characteristics every 300 metres, surpassing previous studies which resolved features several kilometres apart.
Longer datasets such as these are more important than ever, as climate variability impacts energy estimations, allowing researchers to weed out anomalies and better identify which areas most consistently promise power.
The study found that by focusing on shorter data timelines, such as five years, which was typical in previous studies, investigators can over or underestimate wave energy potential by as much as 15 percent.