Technologies Within Our Scope


Last updated: October 2020

Author: Dernis Mediavilla

Organization: Marine Energy Research and Innovation Center, Chile

Wave energy is referred to the energy transported by wind waves, which power can be extracted and converted into electricity or pressurized water. Wave power comes from the up-down movement of the water (potential energy) or the water movement beneath them (kinetic energy). Wave energy is always present in any water body, being a promising source of clean energy anywhere in the globe: waves are ubiquitous and present 24/7 all year-round. Global wave energy potential is estimated on 2.11TW, with 427GW available at North and Central America coasts, and 374GW in South America coastlines (Gunn & Stock-Williams, 2012).

Figure 1. Wave Energy Annual Mean Power Density [1]

Today, wave energy converter technologies (WECs) are at different development stages, having a vast range of concepts and formats, as well as energy capture and generation possibilities. It is worth mentioning that these devices must operate under a wide range of environmental conditions, including natural hazards like storms and tsunami, and therefore survivability is one of their main challenges, in which understanding local conditions plays a significant role. The Ocean Energy Systems, international working group part of the International Energy Agency, suggests a technological classification for WECs: attenuators, overtopping, oscillating water column, oscillating wave surge converters, point absorbers, and other concepts [2]. Depending on the scale and functionality, WECs could potentially deliver energy to an electrical network, or otherwise be the source of clean energy and/or freshwater at open ocean, triggering and supporting community and industrial development where these resources are scarce.

Figure 2. Wave energy technology classification [2]

Research Institutes in Pan-America

Note: If you would like to see your research center in this list, please let us know by contacting us via email to tattiana@pamec.energy.


[1] Gunn, K., & Stock-Williams, C. (2012). Quantifying the global wave power resource. Renewable Energy44, 296-304.

[2] Ocean Energy Systems (2017), OES Vision for International Deployment of Ocean Energy, https://www.ocean-energy-systems.org/documents/24845-oes-vision-2017.pdf/

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