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The potential of wave energy conversion to mitigate coastal erosion from hurricanes

January 26, 2022

Wave energy conversion technologies have recently attracted more attention as part of global efforts to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy resources. While ocean waves can provide renewable energy, they can also be destructive to coastal areas that are often densely populated and vulnerable to coastal erosion. There have been a variety of efforts to mitigate the impacts of wave- and storm-induced erosion; however, they are either temporary solutions or approaches that are not able to adapt to a changing climate. This study explores a green and sustainable approach to mitigating coastal erosion from hurricanes through wave energy conversion. A barrier island, Dauphin Island, off the coast of Alabama, is used as a test case. The potential use of wave energy converter farms to mitigate erosion due to hurricane storm surges while simultaneously generating renewable energy is explored through simulations that are forced with storm data using the XBeach model. It is shown that wave farms can impact coastal morphodynamics and have the potential to reduce dune and beach erosion, predominantly in the western portion of the island. The capacity of wave farms to influence coastal morphodynamics varies with the storm intensity.