These are some of the challenges to deploying wave power devices:
- The device needs to capture a reasonable fraction of the wave energy in irregular waves, in a wide range of sea states.
- There is an extremely large fluctuation of power in the waves. The peak absorption capacity needs to be much (more than 10 times) larger than the mean power. For wave power plant the ratio is typically 4.
- The device has to efficiently convert wave motion into electricity. Generally speaking, wave power is available at low speed and high force, and the motion of forces is not in a single direction. Most readily-available electric generators operate at higher speeds, and most readily-available turbines require a constant, steady flow.
- The device has to be able to survive storm damage and saltwater corrosion. Likely sources of failure include seized bearings, broken welds, and snapped mooring lines. Hence, designers may create prototypes that are so overbuilt that materials costs prohibit affordable production.
- The total cost of electricity is high. Wave power will be competitive only when the total cost of generation is reduced (or the total cost of power generated from other sources increases). The total cost includes the primary converter, the power take-off system, the mooring system, installation & maintenance cost, and electricity delivery costs.
- There is a potential impact on the marine environment. Noise pollution, for example, could have negative impact if not monitored, although the noise and visible impact of each design varies greatly.
- In terms of socio-economic challenges, wave farms can result in the displacement of commercial and recreational fishermen from productive fishing grounds, can change the pattern of beach sand nourishment, and may represent hazards to safe navigation.
- In the US, development of wave farms is currently hindered by a maze of state and federal regulatory hurdles and limited R&D funding.
- Wave power plant generate about 2,700 gigawatts of power. Of those 2,700 gigawatts, only about 500 gigawatts can be captured with the current technology.