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Flow Regimes in Wave and Tidal Energy Converters

Global interest in wave and tidal energy converters is growing rapidly.

Latest industry forecasts suggest that a total of around 150MW of wave and tidal current stream capacity will be installed between 2011 and 2015. In 2011 alone, installations were more than double those in 2010, with further rapid growth expected as the first commercial projects start coming online.

However, despite the progress that has been made in the design and development of these devices, there is a perceived knowledge gap. As larger devices are developed, the unsteady forces on the rotors are likely to increase and the risk of component failure could rise correspondingly.  This is one of a number of significant challenges that need to be addressed if the industry is going to successfully deploy tidal arrays in extreme environments. 

NEL is embarking on a study, supported by the National Measurement System, that aims to gain an understanding of the overall design process followed by manufacturers of marine energy converters, and current and tidal stream turbines in particular.  A major focus of the study will be how manufacturers take account of the unsteady flow regimes to which the devices will be subjected in service. This will help to establish what metrology techniques could be applied to better characterise the in-service flow conditions where the devices are to be deployed. Any other metrology needs specific to the marine sector will also be captured.

The output of the study will create awareness within the National Measurement System of the metrology issues faced by the sector, and may help to direct effort to address these needs.

In undertaking the study, NEL proposes to engage individually with key companies in the marine energy sector to discuss where improved metrology techniques would yield benefit in the design and operation of wave and tidal energy converters.

For further information on this project, please contact us.