Strategies to improve sustainability and offset the initial high capital expenditure of wave energy converters (WECs)

Spyros Foteinis, Theocharis Tsoutsos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Wave energy is a nascent industry characterized by high capital costs, which impede technological development and industry expansion. For this reason, new strategies are required to improve sustainability, reduce cost and enable wave energy harnessing even in low energy seas. Six new strategies that can make commercialization of wave energy more appealing are studied. These comprise the integration of wave energy converters (WECs) in coastal defence; tourism; desalination technology; offshore aquaculture; energy security; and power plants. WECs can axe erosion by half, or even more, in sandy beaches by creating wave shadows in their lee. Therefore, an innovative way to offset WEC high initial capital expenditure is their incorporation in coastal defence, with the added benefit of electricity production. Also, WECs can directly provide pressurized seawater for reverse osmosis desalination plants, thus achieving significant energy, cost and environmental footprint reductions. The touristic trade could also benefit from educational and interpretive displays of the wave energy technology, whilst ecotourism opportunities may arise that could address tourism seasonality. Combined offshore aquaculture facilities with WECs would benefit for reduced installation, operation, and maintenance costs, as well as addressing fossil fuel dependence in aquaculture. Moreover, WECs could be used for mitigating the intermittency of established renewables (solar and wind) and advance their penetration; while a combined WEC- pump hydropower storage scheme could secure the energy supply in remote coastal areas and islands. Finally, WECs could directly supply cooling water intake structures, such as power plants, with the huge amounts of seawater they require for cooling purposes. WEC are also able to provide high purity sterile water for core cooling in nuclear reactors and also support its circulation. For example, WECs can be introduced in coastal nuclear power plants, as to minimize the loss of coolant accident and prevent disasters similar to Fukushima’s 2011.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-785
Number of pages11
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Volume70
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017

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