Variability and phasing of tidal current energy around the United Kingdom

A.S. Iyer, S.J. Couch, G.P. Harrison, A.R. Wallace – Renewable Energy, March, 2013


Tidal energy has the potential to play a key role in meeting renewable energy targets set out by the United Kingdom (UK) government and devolved administrations. Attention has been drawn to this resource as a number of locations with high tidal current velocity have recently been leased by the Crown Estate for commercial development. Although tides are periodic and predictable, there are times when the current velocity is too low for any power generation. However, it has been proposed that a portfolio of diverse sites located around the UK will deliver a firm aggregate output due to the relative phasing of the tidal signal around the coast. This paper analyses whether firm tidal power is feasible with ‘first generation’ tidal current generators suitable for relatively shallow water, high velocity sites. This is achieved through development of realistic scenarios of tidal current energy industry development. These scenarios incorporate constraints relating to assessment of the economically harvestable resource, tidal technology potential and the practical limits to energy extraction dictated by environmental response and spatial availability of resource. The final scenario is capable of generating 17 TWh/year with an effective installed capacity of 7.8 GW, at an average capacity factor of 29.9% from 7 major locations. However, it is concluded that there is insufficient diversity between sites suitable for first generation tidal current energy schemes for a portfolio approach to deliver firm power generation.



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