Accuracy of the actuator disc-RANS approach for predicting the performance and wake of tidal turbines

W. M. J. Batten, M. E. Harrison and A. S. Bahaj – Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A, 2013


The actuator disc-RANS model has widely been used in wind and tidal energy to predict the wake of a horizontal axis turbine. The model is appropriate where large-scale effects of the turbine on a flow are of interest, for example, when considering environmental impacts, or arrays of devices. The accuracy of the model for modelling the wake of tidal stream turbines has not been demonstrated, and flow predictions presented in the literature for similar modelled scenarios vary significantly. This paper compares the results of the actuator disc-RANS model, where the turbine forces have been derived using a blade-element approach, to experimental data measured in the wake of a scaled turbine. It also compares the results with those of a simpler uniform actuator disc model. The comparisons show that the model is accurate and can predict up to 94 per cent of the variation in the experimental velocity data measured on the centreline of the wake, therefore demonstrating that the actuator disc-RANS model is an accurate approach for modelling a turbine wake, and a conservative approach to predict performance and loads. It can therefore be applied to similar scenarios with confidence.



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