Full life cycle assessment of two surge wave energy converters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wave energy has the potential to play an important role in the UK’s electricity mix in the coming years and it is important to understand the interactions of wave energy converters (WECs) with the environment before considering them viable alternatives for other technologies. The aim of this study was to identify the environmental impacts of the deployment of the Oyster WEC to the EMEC test site at Orkney, UK over its lifetime across three general categories: resource use, human health and ecological consequences. A full life cycle assessment (LCA) was performed on two different models of the Oyster WEC: Oyster 1 and
Oyster 800. It was found that the latter is a fitting upgrade for its predecessor as it has lower environmental impacts in all categories; however, the high infrastructural needs of the Oyster technology makes its environmental performance worse than most other wave energy converters. Key sustainability indicators for energy converters include carbon footprint and energy payback period, and these were found to be 79 and 57 gCO2 eq/kWh and 45 and 42 months for the Oyster 1 and Oyster 800 respectively. Although these are significantly higher than most estimates for other types of renewable energy converter, the carbon impacts are still significantly lower than for conventional fossil-fuelled power generation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)548-561
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part A: Journal of Power and Energy
Issue number4
Early online date5 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • Renewable Energy
  • Wave Energy
  • Energy Converter
  • Life cycle assessment (LCA)


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