- The realistic assessment of an ocean wave energy resource that can be converted to an electrical power at various offshore sites depends upon many factors, and these include estimating the resource recognizing the random nature of the site-specific wave field, and optimizing the power conversion from particular wave energy conversion devices. In order to better account for the uncertainty in wave power resource estimates, conditional probability distribution functions of wave power in a given sea-state are derived. Theoretical expressions for the deep and shallow water limits are derived and the role of spectral width is studied. The theoretical model estimates were compared with the statistics obtained from the wave-by-wave analysis of JONSWAP based ocean wave time-series. It was shown that the narrow-band approximation is appropriate when the variability due to wave period is negligible. The application of the short-term models in evaluating the long-term wave power resource at a site was illustrated using wave data measured off the California coast. The final example illustrates the procedure for incorporating the local wave data and the sea-state model together with a wave energy device to obtain an estimate of the potential wave energy that could be converted into a usable energy resource. 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.