Harnessing Wave Energy: A Sustainable Solution for Climate Action and Coastal Resilience

Student Submission by Joel Fink

As a student of Climate Science, I’ve delved into the intricate dynamics of coastal erosion and deposition, recognising the profound impact that waves, especially those influenced by storms, have on shaping coastlines. In this discussion, I aim to explore the intricate relationship between waves and coastal dynamics, drawing insights from case studies across the globe, and propose innovative solutions, including the utilisation of wave energy conversion, to address the pressing issue of coastal erosion and deposition, in alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action.

Wave energy, generated by wave motion, plays a pivotal role in coastal dynamics, with its strength influenced by various factors such as wind speed, sea level, and topography. This energy can reshape sandy and rocky beaches, posing significant challenges to coastal infrastructure. Studies project that nearly half of the world’s sandy beaches may disappear due to erosion and deposition by the end of the century, underlining the urgency of addressing this issue (Vousdoukas et al., 2020).

Surface waves, driven by wind friction, interact with coastal features, altering sediment distribution and shoreline morphology. The interplay between swash and backwash determines whether sediments are deposited or eroded, with anthropogenic activities exacerbating coastal erosion by reducing sediment supply. However, storms amplify wave impacts, causing extensive shoreline recession and infrastructure damage.

Case studies, such as those examining storm surges in the UK and North America, highlight the correlation between storm intensity and coastal impacts, emphasizing the need for effective solutions to mitigate erosion and deposition (Haigh et al., 2016).

Traditional approaches, including beach nourishment and shoreline armouring, offer short-term relief but come with drawbacks such as high costs and limited effectiveness. In contrast, wave energy conversion presents a promising solution with dual benefits: renewable energy generation and coastal protection (Ozkan et al., 2022).

By harnessing wave energy, we can dampen wave impacts and mitigate storm surges, as demonstrated by case studies in locations like Dauphin Island, Alabama. However, challenges remain, including high initial costs and potential environmental impacts, necessitating further research and careful implementation (Ozkan et al., 2022).

Addressing coastal erosion and deposition requires innovative solutions that balance environmental protection and sustainable development. Wave energy conversion offers a promising avenue for climate action and coastal resilience, providing renewable energy while safeguarding our coastlines in a relatively short timeframe. By embracing science-based approaches and fostering collaboration, we can create a more resilient future for coastal communities worldwide, in alignment with SDG 13.


Haigh, I., Wadey, M., Wahl, T., Ozsoy, O., Nicholls, R., Brown, J., Horsburgh, K. and Gouldby, B., 2016. Spatial and temporal analysis of extreme sea level and storm surge events around the coastline of the UK. Scientific Data, 3(1).

Vousdoukas, M., Ranasinghe, R., Mentaschi, L., Plomaritis, T., Athanasiou, P., Luijendijk, A. and Feyen, L., 2020. Sandy coastlines under threat of erosion. Nature Climate Change, 10(3), pp.260-263.

Ozkan, C., Mayo, T. and Passeri, D., 2022. The Potential of Wave Energy Conversion to Mitigate Coastal Erosion from Hurricanes. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 10(2), p.143.

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