Power density capacity of tidal stream turbine arrays with horizontal and vertical axis turbines

Pablo Ouro, Paul Dené, Patxi Garcia-Novo, Tim Stallard, Yusaku Kyozuda, Peter Stansby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tidal and wind energy projects almost exclusively adopt horizontal axis turbines (HATs) due to their maturity. In contrast, vertical axis turbines (VATs) have received limited consideration for large-scale deployment, partly because of their earlier technology readiness level. This paper analyses the power density of turbine arrays comprising aligned and staggered configurations with decreasing turbine spacing of HATs and VATs with height-to-diameter aspect ratios from one to four at three real tidal sites. The VAT rotor has vertical blades extending over a portion of the water depth on a circular frame. Equivalent diameter is defined as D = A based on the projected rotor area for both VATs and HATs. The three-dimensional velocity field is computed using analytical wake models that capture cumulative wake effects. At highly energetic sites, e.g. Ramsey Sound (UK), HATs are the most suitable technology attaining power densities beyond 100 W m - 2, whilst VATs provide higher power densities than HATs at those sites with low-to-medium velocities, e.g. Ría de Vigo (Spain) and Kobe Strait (Japan). At the latter site, VATs provided up to 35% larger energy yield than HATs over a 14-day tidal cycle. Our results show that VATs with height-to-diameter aspect ratios larger than three notably reduce wake effects even when deployed with a normalised turbine spacing of two D, reaching an average power density capacity of 40.7 W m - 2 compared to HATs that attain 49.3 W m - 2. This study outlines the higher efficiency of tidal stream energy compared to other renewable energy resources, e.g. offshore wind farms, reaching power densities at least one order of magnitude larger, and that VATs counterbalance their smaller individual performance with improved array synergy as wake effects are limited.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Ocean Engineering and Marine Energy
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2022


  • Array efficiency
  • Horizontal axis turbine (HAT)
  • Power density
  • Tidal application
  • Turbine array layout
  • Vertical axis turbine (VAT)
  • Wake model


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