This report describes a wave energy conversion (WEC) environmental impact assessment tool used to assess potential physical and biological effects from wave energy development along the California coast. The researchers compiled applicable literature on wave energy; reviewed and summarized the current assessment tools and their performance ranges; and assessed the Wave Energy Environmental Assessment Tool. To develop this tool, the researchers categorized anticipated adverse environmental effects including changes in wave conditions, mechanical intrusions, and disturbances and interferences with the sea environment such as toxicity from wave energy structures.
The researchers reviewed a number of wave and sediment modeling tools focusing on Simulating Waves Nearshore (SWAN) software and the Coupled-Ocean-Atmosphere-Wave-Sediment Transport Model, which enabled two-way coupling between the Regional Ocean Modeling System and SWAN software with variables transferred between the two models. The researchers first used the Coupled-Ocean-Atmosphere-Wave-Sediment Transport Model to simulate the domain in the absence of wave energy conversions. The researchers then altered the SWAN wave model portion of the software to simulate a reduction in wave energy due to wave energy conversions. This altered wave model was coupled with the ocean and sediment model using the Coupled-Ocean-Atmosphere-Wave-Sediment Transport Model to assess the effects of wave energy conversions on sediment conditions. As part of the proposed tool, a new Wave Height and Energy Automation Tool was provided to simplify wave energy conversions field data entry and consequently assess their performance and environmental impact.