Estimation of tidal power potential


R.A. Walters, M.R. Tarbotton, C.E. Hiles – Renewable Energy, March, 2013

Abstract

Several approaches can be used for estimating tidal power potential. From a theoretical point of view, others have shown that the problem can be reduced to a single or multiple boundary problem with simple geometry where each case has a well defined maximum power potential. From a practical point of view, the potential can be approximated from the ambient flow. Questions naturally arise whether the theoretical approach can be applied to a typical field-scale problem, and whether the practical approach has any validity. In order to provide more insight into these questions, form drag representing tidal turbines has been introduced into a numerical flow model. This is an unstructured grid model with an implicit treatment of wetting and drying that has been shown to be robust, accurate, and efficient for highly irregular coastal ocean environments and is well suited for this problem. The field site that has been examined is Minas Passage in the Bay of Fundy which provides an interesting practical perspective for this problem. In the end, only a fraction of the theoretical maximum power potential can be realized in practice because of physical constraints on the maximum form drag for tidal turbines.

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