Heaving buoys, point absorbers and arrays

Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2012 Jan 28;370(1959):246-77. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2011.0249.


Absorption of wave energy may be considered as a phenomenon of interference between incident and radiated waves generated by an oscillating object; a wave-energy converter (WEC) that displaces water. If a WEC is very small in comparison with one wavelength, it is classified as a point absorber (PA); otherwise, as a 'quasi-point absorber'. The latter may be a dipole-mode radiator, for instance an immersed body oscillating in the surge mode or pitch mode, while a PA is so small that it should preferably be a source-mode radiator, for instance a heaving semi-submerged buoy. The power take-off capacity, the WEC's maximum swept volume and preferably also its full physical volume should be reasonably matched to the wave climate. To discuss this matter, two different upper bounds for absorbed power are applied in a 'Budal diagram'. It appears that, for a single WEC unit, a power capacity of only about 0.3 MW matches well to a typical offshore wave climate, and the full physical volume has, unfortunately, to be significantly larger than the swept volume, unless phase control is used. An example of a phase-controlled PA is presented. For a sizeable wave-power plant, an array consisting of hundreds, or even thousands, of mass-produced WEC units is required.