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Mapped economic modelling of wave energy

Frost, C. and Findlay, D. and Johanning, L. and Macpherson, E. and Sayer, P. (2016) Mapped economic modelling of wave energy. In: Progress in Renewable Energies Offshore. CRC Press, London, pp. 859-866. ISBN 9781138626270

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A high level economic model has been developed to map wave energy performance and levelised cost of energy (LCOE). It takes time-series, gridded hindcast wave data, for example generated by SWAN (Simulating WAves Nearshore) software. Interpolating this data against a device power matrix, the wave conditions are converted to power, and then to LCOE using a discounting method and considering capital and operational costs. The results are presented as maps, which serve as high level site assessment tools and allow the most cost-competitive sites to be established. Initial results have been generated for Albatern Ltd, a Scottish wave energy developer and industrial partner of the research project. Their technology is the WaveNET, a small-scale array based device which is constructed from 7.5 kW rated modular units (known as “Squids”). LCOE Maps have been created for a domain covering the Scottish Western Isles, as well as for NOAA hindcast datasets for regions around the world. This paper includes a sample case study, comparing the LCOE for a device concept at two different scales. The results found that, while the larger device performs better over the majority of the area, there are places where the smaller device has a better LCOE, sometimes by as much as 20-30 p/kWh. These are in the more sheltered regions, and imply both that there is not a one fit all solution to wave energy, and that device scale is a parameter which could be tuned for location.