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Truth and reconciliation in wave energy - is there any hope?

Although there has been research into the exploitation of wave energy since the 1970s it remains uncommercialized. This is in stark contrast to other sources of renewable energy such as wind and solar power, which are now mainstream industries. One of the major challenges in the development of wave energy is that unlike wind energy there is no archetypal wave energy technology that can help to focus development efforts. As a result, the development effort in wave energy is highly diverse with different research teams reaching apparently contradictory conclusions on how to most effectively exploit wave energy. This situation is exasperated because much of the current research is led by commercial companies, funded by venture capitalists, that have vested interests in promoting their own technologies at the expense of others. The consequence is a lack of coherence in wave energy that has the effect of dissuading further public and private investment.

The concept of “multiple truths” is used to help understand how different research teams in wave energy reach different conclusions. The current status of wave energy research is analysed using this technique to help reconcile the apparently contradictory conclusions that currently exist in wave energy. Finally, a way forward for the research and development of wave energy that can help to avoid the generation of “multiple truths” is discussed in an attempt to improve the coherence of research into wave energy.