The emerging global wave energy industry has the potential to contribute to the world’s energy needs, but careful consideration of potential impacts to coastal processes in the form of an impact assessment is required for each new wave energy site. Methods for conducting a coastal processes impact assessment for wave energy arrays vary considerably in the scientific literature, particularly with respect to characterising the energy absorption of a wave energy converter (WEC) array in a wave model. In this paper, modelling methods used in the scientific literature to study wave farm impacts on coastal processes are reviewed, with the aim of determining modelling guidance for impact assessments. Effects on wave climate, beach morphology, and the surfing resource for coastal water users are considered. A novel parameterisation for the WEC array transmission coefficient is presented that, for the first time, uses the permitted power rating of the wave farm, which is usually well defined at the impact assessment stage, to estimate the maximum likely absorption of a permitted WEC array. A coastal processes impact assessment case study from a wave farm in south-west Ireland is used to illustrate the application of the reviewed methods, and demonstrates that using the new ‘rated power transmission coefficient’ rather than a WEC-derived transmission coefficient or complete energy absorption scenario can make the difference between significant and non-significant levels of coastal impacts being predicted.