About NC Waves

What is the NC Wind, Waves, and Power Project?

The Wind Wave Power in North Carolina project aims to gather data about the energy produced by wind waves off the coast of North Carolina. The data set helps researchers, energy companies, developers, policy makers and others answer important questions about renewable energy from wind waves in North Carolina and other Atlantic coast state waters. The data supports answers to the following questions:

  • What is the potential energy production from wind waves in North Carolina waters?
  • What are the optimal locations for capturing wind wave power?
  • How does wind wave energy vary by season?
  • What is the range of wind wave energy, from most to least extreme?

Data about the wind wave energy potential of North Carolina’s coastal waters also helps experts in a wide range of fields make informed decisions. From companies looking to find stable locations for wind turbines to preliminary research on where offshore drilling for oil could take place safely, this data will illuminate the power of wind waves off the coast, the obstacles and potentials of tapping wind waves as a power source and the dangers and obstacles that wind waves present to developers, energy companies, engineers, and other commercial ventures.

Project Methods

A team led by Billy Edge, PhD, professor of civil, construction, and environmental engineering at North Carolina State University and head of coastal processes and engineering at the Coastal Studies Institute in Manteo, NC, will produce a 30-year hindcast of wind wave energy in the waters along the North Carolina coast. The hindcast will use inputs from past events to create a model that accurately captures the behavior of wind waves over the past 20 years and will serve as a guide in predicting future behaviors.

Input data for the winds are ingested from NOAA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and Oceanweather, Inc. Bathymetry data comes from UNC Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Science. Modeling software used for the hindcast are NOAA’s WAVEWATCH III wave model coupled with ADCIRC (circulation and transport model) and SWAN (nearshore wave model).

The hindcast was analyzed and validated for both normal and extreme conditions and a project report and the raw data in a searchable and downloadable form will be made available. An interactive map interface with geo-referenced data points will also be produced.

Computing to create the model is done on RENCI’s Dell PowerEdge cluster called Blue Ridge using 1,400 CPU cores and 960 GPU cores.