Recent studies have revealed a long history of large waves around Ireland, which can be attributed to persistent strong winds in this area. At the same time, due to the consistently high levels of wave energy, the West Coast of Ireland has attracted a lot of interest as a prospective site for deployment of wave energy converters (WECs) farms. The design of such devices, and in fact of any offshore installation, depends crucially on the knowledge of extreme sea states they will experience during their deployment time.
With this in mind, an Extreme Value Analysis incorporating seasonality and accounting for long-term trends was performed, based on a 29 year hindcast for Ireland. The hindcast was performed using the WAVEWATCH III wave model in a 3 nested grid setup, with the largest grid covering the North Atlantic basin and the finest resolution grid (10km) focusing on Ireland. The model was forced with ERA-Interim 10m winds from the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts. The wave model was validated by comparison to buoy data from the Irish Marine Data Buoy Network.
The analysis was performed on the entire fine resolution grid. This affords a characterisation of the spatial variability in extremes both along the coast and with depth gradients. This is of interest in many marine applications, and in particular WEC design and deployment. Indeed, in the nearshore, wave energy levels can be similar to those found in the offshore. This, in conjunction with the diminished risk of extreme sea states, makes nearshore areas attractive for future ocean energy sites.