The western coast of Ireland possesses one of the highest wave energy resources in the world and consequently is a promising location for the future deployment of Wave Energy Converters (WECs). Most wave climate studies for this region have focused primarily on the offshore area since it enjoys higher energy densities. However, recent studies have shown that nearshore locations offer a similar potential for the exploitation of wave energy as offshore sites . Furthermore, the proximity of WEC devices to the shore will likely reduce losses in power transport, and facilitate access for maintenance activities.
In this context, we analyse the wave climate over a ten year period for several nearshore sites off the Irish West Coast. The wave climate is estimated using a spectral wave model, WaveWatch III, forced with wind and spectral wave data from the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast) operational archive. The wave model is validated with wave buoy data from intermediate to shallow depths (< 60 m).
Our focus is on two aspects of the wave climate resource assessment. Firstly, we characterise the directionality of the wave energy resource (mean direction, directional spread) which affects the site selection, design and performance of nearshore WECs. Secondly, we discuss the climate data from the perspective of accessibility for maintenance. When selecting sites for the deployment of WECs, a balance needs to be found between two opposing criteria: the existence of sufficiently long, continuous time intervals of calm sea states (weather windows) which are necessary for maintenance activities to take place, and a high, consistent level of wave energy density, essential for economically viable wave energy extraction.