The Influence of Waves on Tidal Stream Turbine Arrays

  • Alexander Olczak

Student thesis: Phd


The aim of this research was to quantify the influence of waves on arrays of tidal turbines. Experiments measured the wake of a turbine operating in combined wave-current flows, these were found to reduce velocity deficit as opposed to current only flow. The vertical region of the wake affected was dependant on the wave depth parameter, kd.RANS-BEM and Actuator Line methods were implemented within a commercial CFD code to provide computationally efficient methodologies for the simulation of both large turbine arrays and a turbine subjected to unsteady flow. For scaled experiments thrust coefficient was within 7% and 1% of the flume experiments for the RANS-BEM and Actuator Line methods respectively. The methods were found to give good prediction of a single turbine wake at distances greater than four diameters downstream, provided values of inlet turbulence intensity and length scale were equal to those measured experimentally.An unsteady Actuator Line method was used to quantify rotor loads and wake generation for a turbine operating within combined wave-current flow. The use of a streamwise pulsatile flow was found to give similar rotor and blade loads to simulations using a wave in a two phase volume of fluid simulation. The control strategy adopted by the turbine was found to greatly influence the computed rotor loads and blade bending moments. The wake generated by an Actuator Line method showed a reduction in velocity, however this was smaller than that measured experimentally for equivalent wave conditions.The accuracy with which the RANS-BEM method computed turbine loads and wakes was quantified for a number of one, two and three row arrays. The square of the disk averaged velocity encountered by turbines downstream of a single row of five turbines was found to be predicted to within 5% and 28% for an aligned and staggered arrangement respectively. For the two row arrays, the thrust of individual turbines was within 31% of the experimental measurements. The merged wake downstream of the multiple turbines was well predicted.Measurements of the wake of five porous disks showed combined wave-current flow did not alter the wake in the same manner as a single isolated disk. Measurement of wave energy over the wake showed the downstream current field altered wave propagation, causing a reduction in wave energy over the wake but an increase over the bypass flow. The accuracy of the wave model SWAN was assessed for the calculation of this change in wave characteristics. The model gave good prediction of the lateral variation of wave height over the far wake, however discrepancies in the near wake and upstream of the disk occurred.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorTimothy Stallard (Supervisor) & Peter Stansby (Supervisor)


  • Experiments
  • CFD
  • Turbulence
  • Arrays
  • Current
  • Wave
  • Tidal Energy
  • Renewable Energy

Cite this