Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society dedicate issue to tidal current energy research

January 16th, 2013 by The Royal Society

The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society have published an issue ‘New research in tidal current energy’ compiled and edited by Professor AbuBakr Bahaj. The issue is focused on marine engineering, fluid mechanics, and computer modelling.

AbuBakr Bahaj, Professor of Sustainable Energy at the University of Southampton, in the preface writes “authors claim that tidal energy resources could meet around 20% or more of the UK’s electricity demand and that progress to deployment of machines to covert such a marine energy resource will be much faster than that achieved at the start of the wind energy industry.”

“In order to meet our aspiration for energy security, reducing dependence on finite and polluting fossil fuels, and to combat climate change, we need to exploit as many of the available natural and sustainable resources within our planet as possible,” Professor AbuBakr Bahaj writes.

“Tidal current energy is frequently referred to as an emerging technology that has the potential to successfully augment existing renewable energy technologies,” he states.

“Given the commitments to establish favourable regulatory and incentive regimes and the aspiration for energy independence whilst combating climate change, progress to multi-MW tidal arrays will be much faster than that achieved for wind energy development.”

A paper by Dr Nicholas Yates and Dr Judith Wolf from the National Oceanography Centre, and Dr Ian Walkington and Dr Richard Burrows from the University of Liverpool, claims that tidal energy from estuary barrages and tidal stream devices could meet 20% or more of the UK’s electricity demand. Their research also determines that GW scale tidal arrays could affect the tides significant distances away from the sites of tidal stream farms.

Characteristics of the turbulence in the flow at a tidal-stream power site‘ by Ian Milne, Dr Rajnish Sharma, Professor Richard Flay and Dr Simon Bickerton from the University of Auckland investigates the turbulence characteristics at the Sound of Islay. The research will be of interest to tidal turbine designers, and may subsequently lead to greater confidence in predicting the unsteady loading on their devices.

Evaluation of the durability of composite tidal turbine blades‘ written by Professor Peter Davies from the University of Dundee, and Grégory Germain, Benoît Gaurier, Amélie Boisseau from IFREMER and Professor Dominique Perreux of MaHyTec Ltd provides a procedure to evaluate the long term durability of composites for tidal turbine blades.

Influence of tidal parameters on SeaGen flicker performance‘ written by Joseph MacEnri, Matthew Reed, and Professor Torbjörn Thiringer presents some analysis of the quality of the electrical power generated by the 1.2 MW tidal energy converter SeaGen. The researchers concluded that faster tidal flows causes higher flicker but the overall power quality is very good.

‘Blockage effects on the hydrodynamic performance of a marine cross-flow turbine‘ written by Claudio Consul, Dr Richard Willden and Dr Simon McIntosh of the University of Oxford shows blockage, the ratio of a turbine to channel cross-sectional area, is shown to have a significant, beneficial, influence on the performance of marine turbines.  The power coefficient obtainable from a generic cross-flow turbine operating in 50% blockage,, i.e. water depth twice the diameter of the turbine is over double that achievable in unblocked tidal flows.

Interactions between tidal turbine wakes: experimental study of a group of 3-bladed rotors‘ by Dr Tim Stallard, Ralph Collings, Dr Tong Feng and Jo Whelan looks at how the wake of each turbine influences the loading and power output of other turbines. Experimental measurements of the wake which develops downstream of a small group of tidal stream rotors are presented and analysed.

Accuracy of the actuator disc-RANS approach for predicting the performance and wake of tidal turbines‘ by Dr William Batten, Matthew Harrison, and Professor AbuBakr Bahaj investigates the use of a simplified computer model of the turbine to reduce computational demand. The validated simulations demonstrate that the model is an accurate approach for modelling a turbine wake, and conservative approach to predict performance and loads. It can therefore be applied to similar scenarios with confidence and will allow farms of turbines to be modelled computationally.

Dr Matthew Churchfield, Dr Ye Li and Patrick Moriarty of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory wrote ‘A large-eddy simulation study of wake propagation and power production in an array of tidal-current turbines

Tim Daly, Dr Luke Myers and Professor AbuBakr Bahaj wrote ‘Modelling of the flow field surrounding tidal turbine arrays for varying positions in a channel‘, which compares experimental data the different methods of computational modelling of the water flow onto a turbine to determine the key differences in terms of accuracy and precision.

Tim Divett, Dr Ross Vennell and Dr Craig Stevens wrote ‘Optimisation of multiple turbine arrays in a channel with tidally reversing flow by numerical modelling with adaptive mesh‘. Their research determines the arrangement of turbines in an array that captures the most energy. They write “that a staggered array captures more than one and a half times the power of a regular grid pattern array while doubling the spacing between rows increases power capture by a third.”

Dr Scott Draper, Professor Alistair Borthwick and Guy Houlsby wrote the paper ‘Energy potential of a tidal fence deployed near a coastal headland.’

Tide running off St Martin’s Point on 3 August 2012 (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Their research determines that “fast moving tidal streams close to coastal headlands may present ideal locations for the deployment of tidal energy devices.”

The final paper, ‘Assessment of Arrays of In-stream Tidal Turbines in the Bay of Fundy‘ by Dr Richard Karsten, Amanda Swan, and Joel Culina, uses numerical simulations and analytical calculations to argue that over 2000 MW of power can be extracted from the tidal currents in Minas Passage, Bay of Fundy with very small impact on the tidal regime.

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