Rangel- Buitrago, N., Anfuso, G., Alvarez, O., Phillips, M., Thomas, T., M. Forero. 2013. Characterization of wave climate and extreme events into the SW Spanish and Wales coasts as a first step to define their wave energy potential. Proceedings 13th International Coastal Symposium (Durban, South Africa), Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 70, pp. 314–319, ISSN 0749-0208.
The characterization of wave climate and extreme events is a key issue for planning coastal and offshore activities. The energy sector is obliged to use alternative sources directed towards environment friendly renewable energy. Ocean waves constitute a potential source of this kind of energy and detailed knowledge of site specific wave climates constitutes the first step in developing a wave energy system. Consequently, this work deals with the analysis of wave climate at Cadiz (SW Spanish Atlantic coast) and Tenby (S Wales, UK). At the former site, wave records include 22 years of data covering the period between 1987 and 2008. Offshore wave climate showed clear cyclic variations in average monthly significant wave height (Hs). Waves were usually low (Hs<0.8 m, Cadiz - Hs<1.0 m, Tenby) from May to August (late spring to summer), reaching minimum values in August (Hs = 0.6 m Cadiz - Hs = 1.0 m Tenby). Winter waves rapidly increased in height, reaching peak values (Hs = 1.2 m, Cadiz, Hs = 2.1 m, Tenby) between December and January. Energy patterns calculated using the equation of wave energy flux, showed monthly averages at Cadiz and Tenby of circa 5 kW/m and 15 kW/m respectively that reached average values of 37 kW/m and 155 kW/m respectively, during winter. Despite this, Atlantic coastal locations receive less attention when compared with other coastlines around the world since they are considered to be relatively calm areas. Wave power values recorded in this research suggest that the SW Spanish Atlantic and South Wales coastal areas are potential sources of renewable energy.