Ocean Energy Potential
Operation assessment for tidal stream turbine arrays
In various regions around Europe, particularly within the English Channel (encompassing France and the Netherlands), the UK, and Ireland, there's a significant push to harness tidal stream energy more efficiently. While predicting tide levels is a relatively straightforward endeavour, the same cannot be said for tidal current velocity, which demands sophisticated simulation methods tailored for hydraulic purposes. This challenge isn't isolated to researchers; developers, regulators like the Crown Estate in the UK and other European Marine Energy Centers, and existing energy ventures are all invested in discovering a solution. All stakeholders could greatly benefit from enhanced forecasting capabilities, aiding in efficient operations and maintenance. Accurate site assessments, particularly those pertaining to basin types and key geometric features, are instrumental for gauging energy potential.
In addressing this, the solution is multifaceted. Recognising that tidal currents, particularly in specific coastal channels, amplify kinetic energy, the first step is to integrate metrics that measure this energy, deriving outputs from metocean digital twins. This approach would also consider tidal-stream energy variances. Initial efforts would focus on the development of 2-D regional models that can then be fine-tuned in high kinetic energy density areas, eventually scaling up to 3-D models for more complex scenarios. One major limitation with current models is their coarse granularity, which doesn't capture the intricacies of tidal stream resources that often manifest at smaller scales. Thus, advanced hydrodynamic models targeting specific areas are of paramount importance. As these models mature, the next phase would involve assessing the impacts of vast arrays, progressing to array optimisation.