To support development of the wave energy industry in Australia, we present guidance for assessing the influence of arrays of Wave Energy Converters (WECs) on the hydrodynamic attributes of the surrounding ocean, as a means for providing a first level impact assessment for proposed wave energy deployments. These guidelines have been developed as part of the ARENA and CSIRO-funded Australian Wave Energy Atlas Project (AWavEA). A wave energy project cycle typically consists of four stages: Preliminary evaluation; Feasibility study; Project design; and Implementation and operation. The guidelines presented in this paper aim to support preliminary assessments of the suitability of a proposed site to deployment of wave energy converters.
A series of idealised simulations of WEC array installations using SNL-SWAN was performed to underpin development of the guidelines, under a range of conditions (device types, array sizes and configurations, wave climate conditions, bed slope, distance offshore). Results are generalised via empirical equations to represent the zone of impact (area, cross-shore distance, and longshore width).
These equations provide a basic tool to inform design of more detailed modelling and monitoring assessments of the environment adjacent to proposed wave energy developments.