A Scalable Wave Resource Assessment Methodology: Application to U.S. Waters

Levi Kilcher, Gabriel Garcia Medina, Zhaoqing Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Waves deliver large quantities of energy to populated coastlines around the world, and wave energy technology research and development has accelerated over the last two decades. Throughout this time national and regional resource assessments have utilized disparate methodologies, which can cause confusion and skepticism. In this work, we describe a theoretical wave resource assessment methodology that addresses many of the major areas of inconsistency and debate. Applying this revised methodology to U.S. waters, we find the theoretical U.S. wave energy resource to be 3300 TWh/yr, with region totals of 2000 TWh/yr in Alaska, 510 TWh/yr along the U.S. west coast, 380 TWh/yr in Hawaii, 290 TWh/yr along the east coast, 69 TWh/yr in the Gulf of Mexico, and 17 TWh/yr in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We also find significant uncertainty in these estimates associated with the underlying model dataset, which emphasizes the importance of thorough model validation and calibration as well as quantifying uncertainty.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number119094
Number of pages15
JournalRenewable Energy
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5700-86040


  • Scalable methodology
  • Wave hindcast
  • Wave resource assessment


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