Example of Hydrodynamic modeling showing wave height and circulation patterns in Monterey Bay, CA.

Example of Hydrodynamic modeling showing wave height and circulation patterns in Monterey Bay, CA.

Since 2010, Sandia has been studying changes in wave propagation due to the operation of wave-energy converter (WEC) arrays. This work has primarily focused on applying and enhancing the-open source spectral wave model SWAN (Simulating WAves Nearshore).

The five recently published SAND reports focus on applying SWAN and a modified version known as SNL-SWAN, which includes a WEC module to more accurately model the WECs’ wave energy extraction and their influence on wave propagation to shore. These reports emphasize the sensitivity of model results to wave and WEC model parameters, with specific attention given to assessing the relationship between WEC numbers, types, and configurations deployed and the environmental effects induced by changes in wave propagation and circulation. As such, one report describes coupling SWAN with the SNL-EFDC (Environmental Fluid Dynamics Code) circulation model to investigate changes in nearshore ocean circulation and sediment transport.

The ongoing work’s overarching goal is to develop, apply, and enable the industry to use WEC-friendly wave-propagation models to assess the environmental effects created by changes in wave climates resulting from deploying ocean wave farms. The SNL-SWAN wave modeling tool and associated methodologies can provide siting guidance for developers, and provide regulators with the information needed to make timely and accurate permitting decisions.