A research project at UWA’s Wave Energy Research Centre that could drive down wave energy production prices and improve coastal safety is set to reach new depths next week. Albany-based PhD student Thobani Hlophe, along with his supervisor and postdoctoral researcher Dr Adi Kurniawan, is studying ocean physics to develop ways of predicting incoming waves. So far, 10 months into the project, they have worked with synthetic data generated by computer simulations. Next week, however, a buoy will be deployed off Sandpatch beach to collect first-of-its-kind field data. Wave prediction research has been carried out in the past, with that data being used by the global shipping industry. But according to Dr Kurniawan, this new Albany-based project will refine such findings and have a broader range of applications across industries and in the community. One of those applications can be found in the centre’s name — wave energy. By predicting ocean surface elevation above wave-energy devices, the research could combat one of the emerging industry’s biggest barriers — cost. “If we tune the wave energy devices according to the incoming incident wave, we can produce more power than just letting the wave energy device work on its own without control,” Mr Hlophe said. The safety of seafarers and others who take part in coastal activities could also be bolstered by the study, Mr Hlophe said. The research could help accurately predict waves minutes in advance, giving forewarning to recreational ocean users and rescue teams.