The nascent wave energy sector has the potential to contribute significantly to global renewables targets, yet at present there are no proven commercially viable technologies. Macro-economic assessment is seldom used to assess wave energy projects, yet can provide insightful information on the wider economic benefits and can be used in conjunction with techno-economic analysis to inform policy makers, investors and funding bodies. Herein, we present a coupled techno–macro-economic model, which is used to assess the macro-economic benefit of installing a 5.25 MW farm of oscillating water column wave energy devices at two locations: Orkney in Scotland and Leixoes in Portugal. Through an input-output analysis, the wide-reaching macro-economic benefit of the prospective projects is highlighted; evidenced by the finding that all 29 industry sectors considered are either directly or indirectly stimulated by the project for both locations. Peak annual employment is expected to be 420 and 190 jobs in Portugal and Scotland respectively during the combined installation and manufacturing stage, with an associated peak annual GVA of over €16.6 m and €12.8 m. The discrepancies between the two locations is concluded to largely be a result of the site-specific attributes of the farm locations: specifically, increased water depth and distance to shore for the Portuguese site, resulting in higher costs associated with mooring and electrical cables and vessels. The insights gained through the presented results demonstrate the merit of macro-economic analysis for understanding the wider economic benefit of wave energy projects, while providing an understanding over key physical factors which will dominate estimated effects.
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