Sea wave energy is one of the most promising renewable sources, even if relevant technology is not mature enough for the global energy market and is not yet competitive if compared with solar, wind and tidal current devices. Particularly, among the variety of wave energy converters developed in the last decade, heaving point absorbers represent one of the most feasible and studied technologies, as shown by the small-scale testing and full-scale prototypes, deployed in the last years throughout the world. Nevertheless, the need for further reduction of the energy production costs requires a specialized design of wave energy converters, accounting for the restraints provided by the power take-off unit and the device operational profile. Hence, actual analysis focuses on a new cost-based design procedure for heaving point absorbers. The device is equipped with a floating buoy with an optional fully submerged mass connected, by means of a tensioned line, to the power take-off unit. It consists of a permanent magnet linear generator, lying on the seabed and equipped with a gravity-based foundation. The proposed procedure is applied to several candidate deployment sites located in the Mediterranean Sea; the incidence of the power take-off restraint and the converter operational profile is fully investigated and some recommendations for preliminary design of wave energy converter devices are provided. Current results show that there is wide scope to make the wave energy sector more competitive on the international market, by properly selecting the main design parameters of point absorbers, on the basis of met-ocean conditions at the deployment site.
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