Fossil fuels, i.e., petroleum, natural gas, and coal, are the primary sources of global energy. Studies on the impacts of fossil fuels on climate change have shown the immediate need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adopt sustainable alternatives since these emissions result in warmer atmospheric temperatures, ocean acidification, glacier melting, sea level rise, and many other ramifications. In recent years, these alarming results have prompted governments worldwide to develop adaptation strategies for climate change, leading to increased investments in renewable energy resources. Globally, solar energy, wind energy, and hydropower have been the leading sources of renewable energy. Ocean wave energy, however, has become increasingly recognized as another promising source of electricity, as waves contain as much as 2 TW of power and offer a highly predictable energy resource in comparison to more conventional sources. Wave energy can be converted into electricity by Wave Energy Converters (WECs). WECs extract energy from the motion of surface waves or fluctuations in the water pressure below the ocean surface. Surface waves or pressure fluctuations drive a generator or a power take-off system, allowing the energy of the waves to be converted into electricity. WECs are commonly configured in arrays, i.e., wave farms, to increase the span across which waves can be captured and optimize the use of materials such as underwater cables used to transfer the generated electricity to the shore. There are various types of WECs based on various physical principles and their efficiencies of converting the total available wave power into electricity range from 20-40%. For any given location, the most suitable type should be determined for deployment based on the coastal region's local needs and characteristics, such as the bathymetry, wave climate, coastline properties, and marine life. Wave energy conversion technologies have recently attracted more attention as part of global efforts to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy resources. While ocean waves can provide renewable energy, they can also be destructive for the coastal areas that are usually densely populated and vulnerable to coastal erosion. There have been a variety of efforts to mitigate the impacts of wave- and storm-induced erosion; however, they are either temporary solutions or approaches that are not able to adapt to changing climate. It is only recently recognized that traditional coastal protection methods may not be adequate in adapting to climate change, and diverse defense methods employing nature-based solutions and non-invasive technology (e.g. wave farms and electric reefs) are needed. This dissertation explores a green and sustainable approach to mitigating coastal erosion from hurricanes through wave energy conversion in a changing climate, i.e., rising sea levels. The potential use of wave energy converter farms to mitigate erosion while generating renewable energy is explored through simulations using the numerical model, XBeach. It is shown that wave farms can impact coastal morphodynamics and have the potential to reduce dune and beach erosion. The capacity of wave farms to influence coastal morphodynamics varies with the storm intensity.


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Graduation Date





Mayo, Talea


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering

Degree Program

Civil Engineering




CFE0008365; DP0023802





Release Date

December 2020

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)