Australia’s wave energy resource has been assessed as being arguably the largest in the world, thereby providing a potential future renewable energy resource to Australia’s renewable energy portfolio. The past decade has seen several wave energy prototypes trialled in the Australian ocean environment. However, the wave energy industry globally is in its infancy and faces a range of barriers to becoming financially viable. One challenge is the uncertainty of the consenting processes, particularly in regards to the environmental impact assessment for the development and operation of ocean energy facilities.
To support the development of the wave energy industry in Australia, this document addresses the limited evidence base and methodology for assessing impacts of wave energy extraction on the marine and coastal environment. In particular, this document provides best practice guidance on assessing the influence of arrays of Wave Energy Converters (WECs) on the hydrodynamic attributes of the surrounding ocean. 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 (Appendix B): Preliminary evaluation; Feasibility study; Project design; and Implementation and operation. The guidelines presented in this report aim to support preliminary assessments of the suitability of a proposed site to deployment of wave energy converters.