As wave energy is, to varying intensities, found all across the World’s oceans, the market for electricity from wave energy is equally significant in both scale and distribution.
The World Energy Council has conservatively estimated the market potential for wave energy to be in excess of 2,000TWh/year, representing a capital expenditure of more than £500 billion. This is broadly equivalent to the existing deployed markets for nuclear and hydroelectric power.
The fuel source for wave projects is free, therefore regions with the strongest wave resource will offer the lowest cost of energy from this renewable resource.
These regions are generally found in the temperate zones (30-60 degrees latitude north and south of the equator) where strong storms occur regularly and include Western Europe, North America, South America, South Africa and Australasia.
As wave energy is a new, emerging technology, which has yet to benefit from cost reductions through volume manufacturing and engineering refinement, it initially requires levels of additional market support in order to make it competitive against established sources of electricity which have already been supported through this phase of development.
There are already a number of countries and Governments around the world which have recognised the significant opportunities which come from wave energy and have put in place specific market support for early projects, including the UK, Portugal and Spain.
In parallel with a growing build-out of wave projects the costs of energy from waves will fall, which will mean that additional subsidies can be reduced. Lower costs for electricity coming from waves will also mean that wave becomes competitive in regions of the oceans which have lower energy levels.