The wave energy potential is directly proportional to the wave period and second power of wave height averaged over a suitable time period. The wave height and period have temporal and spatial stochastic variations. It is the main purpose of this paper to derive the most general wave energy formulation by considering simultaneously the temporal variations both in the wave height and period. The correction factor is derived explicitly in terms of cross-correlation and the coefficients of variation. The application of the methodology is performed for wave measurement stations located in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of the US. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.