The challenging life of wave energy devices at sea: A few points to consider
Wave power devices offer great prospects for the marine renewable energy sector. But in comparison to wind energy, wave power is still in its infancy, mainly prototype-based, with technological gaps akin to those experienced in the wind sector some 15 years ago. Several aspects that did not seem significant at a first glance in the design phase, such as the interaction with the marine environment, turned out to be important when the first prototypes were put in the water. In fact, these devices have to face great challenges once at sea and several prototypes have not survived. Firstly, ocean waves are not such an innocuous, predictable flow of water and secondly, life thrives in the ocean. Wave power devices are perfect artificial reefs suitable for algal growth and colonization by many species. And they will have to sustain harsh conditions for over two decades while producing energy. For obvious reasons, there is a lack of existing literature on the subject. In this short review we address a simple question: how tough will the life of wave power devices at sea be? The answer is based on available evidence. We provide as well some ideas to take up the challenge.