A study based on the energy provided by a cork bobbing on the water could lead to wave power outperforming wind farms, scientists say.
The bobber can produce more power than turbines, scientists say
University of Manchester scientists have designed a rig that combines floats to turn waves into electricity.
If put into full-scale use, the "Manchester Bobber" would be attached to a rig 65ft above the sea.
Co-inventor Peter Stansby said "virtually nothing" had been done to "scale up" wave energy up until now.
If initial tests of the Bobber are successful, the team hopes to gain funding for a full-scale trial.
Mr Stansby, a hydrodynamics professor at the university, said: "When you hear that a wind turbine produces two megawatts, that actually indicates the maximum output.
"The Bobber's output of five megawatts is the mean power output, with the potential of much more depending on the conditions."
The Bobber's mechanical and electrical components would be kept high above sea level to make them more accessible for repairs and less vulnerable to sea water damage.
A series of units placed together would provide a means to increase energy output, the Engineer magazine reported.
Manchester Intellectual Property, the university's spin-out company, has applied for an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council grant to test a combination of up to 49 units.
"Despite all the talk about wave energy there has been virtually nothing done on scaling up to see how different units interact with each other," Mr Stansby said.
"That's our next step."
Another scheme to harness wave energy, Wave Hub, will see a £13m wave energy farm - one of the biggest in the world - being built off Cornwall.