Background: With the increasingly serious energy and environmental crises and shortages of conventional energy such as coal and oil, humans have been focusing on new energy sources, especially the abundant wave energy resource. Previous researchers have made great contributions to the design of wave energy converters and have also applied for many patents. However, advanced comprehensive wave energy evaluation and application systems are still scarce, which results in the primitive state of wave energy evaluation.
Methods: The goal of this work is to overview the status and prospects of the evaluation of global wave energy to find an effective method to evaluate wave energy resources. This study divides the wave energy evaluation into 4 historical periods according to the data source. The future focus for wave energy resource evaluation is also presented in this study.
Results: The wave energy evaluation includes 4 periods: the observational wave data period, the satellite-derived wave data period, the hindcast (simulation wave data from a wave model) wave data period and the reanalysis wave data period. In future research, the focus of wave energy evaluation should include the swell energy, the climatic characteristics of the wave energy resource, the characteristics of marine environments, the mid-to-long-term prediction of wave energy, the short-term forecasting of wave energy, and the evaluation of resources at a particular site.
Conclusion: A scientific evaluation framework and application system (software) is urgently needed to provide a basis for decisions for the development of wave power generation, desalination and other developments of wave energy and to promote the sustainable development of human society.