Scottish tidal power turbulence measurement tool launched for UK marine energy sector

Sound of Jura
Sound of Jura

The consortium that delivered the Scottish Govt-funded Turbulence in Marine Environments (TiME) project has now launched a turbulence measurement and assessment service for the wave and tidal power sector.

Tidal races are the preferred sites of commercial energy extraction because these geographic areas are sites of amplified flow, which increases the energy density available for extraction.

However, these sites are rarely uniform in width or depth, and they often have irregular seabed topography, creating highly turbulent tidal currents.   

The TiME project, part-funded by the Scottish Government Marine Renewables Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) Array Technology Innovation Programme, and administered by the Carbon Trust, was established in response to such uncertainties.

The TiME project was delivered as a consortium comprising Partrac (Glasgow), ABPmer (Southampton), Ocean Array Systems (Cambridge) and ITPower (Bristol), in association with technology supplier Rockland Scientific Inc.

The over-arching aim of the project was to develop – using a combination of modelling, field measurement and theoretical analysis – a framework for measuring, classifying and predicting the effect of turbulence on resource assessment, device design/operation and array yield.

The project collected turbulence data at two commercially relevant Scottish tidal power sites: the Sound of Jura and the Inner Sound and demonstrated a project demonstrated a practical and efficient end-to-end process for measuring, characterising and simulating the effect of site-specific turbulence.

Kevin Black, Technical Director at Glasgow-based Partrac, a spokesman for the project said: “Turbulence – the unsteady component of flow – has significant consequences for structural loading and component fatigue, energy yield, wake development and hence array planning.

“At present tidal energy device designers and array developers do not yet have the means to understand, predict or model unsteady interactions between their devices and flow turbulence, a status quo explicitly recognised in the present standard for tidal resource assessment and characterisation.

“This leads directly to an over-engineering of devices (increasing their capital cost) or under-engineering (leading to device failure or frequent maintenance requirement, adversely affecting operating costs).

“Improving the understanding of turbulence in places of interest therefore has its benefits especially in terms of lowering costs.  We are therefore really excited to share the experience gained, lessons learned and findings from the TiME project with the market. “

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