The wave energy around the British Isles is equivalent to three times current UK electricity demand.
Moreover, it is technically possible to convert a sizeable fraction of this wave energy to electricity – the technically and economically recoverable resource has been estimated to be 50-90TWh of electricity per year, or 14-26% of current UK demand.
The UK is not alone. The western seaboard of Europe, facing the Atlantic, offers an enormous number of potential sites off the coast of Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal and Norway. The Pacific coastlines of North and South America, Southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand are also highly energetic.
The World Energy Council has conservatively estimated the market potential for wave energy to be in excess of 2,000TWh/year.
In fact, any area with yearly averages of over 15kW per metre (shown on the global resource map) has the potential to generate wave energy at competitive prices. Note that this threshold excludes areas such as the Mediterranean Sea and the Great Lakes of Northern America – despite their not-infrequent storms.
UK resource map courtesy of ABP Marine Environmental Research Ltd. Detailed atlas of UK resources can be found in 'Reports and Papers'