Analysis of the kinetic energy recovery behind a tidal stream turbine for various submergence levels

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Tidal turbines are commonly deployed at sea sites with water depths of up to 50 m to ease their deployment and quick maintenance operations. In these relatively shallow water depth conditions, the vertical expansion of tidal stream turbine wakes is restricted by the proximity of the rotor blades to the bottom bed and free-surface layer. These physical constrains can lead to changes in the flow mechanisms that drive momentum recovery behind the turbines, e.g. limiting the vertical fluxes of velocity. Understanding how the wake recovers depending on the submergence ratio is of utmost importance to designing the future multi-row tidal turbine arrays. Here, we adopt high-fidelity Large-Eddy Simulations (LES) with an Actuator Line Method (ALM) to represent the turbine’s rotor to analyse the mean flow and transport equation for mean kinetic energy (MKE) behind a single bottom-fixed tidal turbine for four water depth values. Our results show that the close proximity of the turbine blade tip to the free-surface can notably constrain the wake expansion, with very shallow conditions leading to a limited contribution to the MKE replenishment of the turbulent momentum exchange over the vertical direction. Conversely, under such shallow conditions, the horizontal flux of MKE is enhanced over the lateral boundaries of the downstream wake. Our study evidences that the ratio of water depth to turbine diameter plays a relevant role in future tidal arrays and needs to be correctly accounted for in numerical models to provide reliable results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-272
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Marine Energy Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2022


  • Large-eddy simulation
  • mean kinetic energy
  • tidal stream energy
  • tidal turbine
  • wake recovery


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