Design Feasibility Study for a Low Velocity Tidal Stream Turbine

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering


The research will investigate the feasibility of extracting energy from low velocity (< 2 m/s) tidal flows, using the UK waters as a case study. Existing research and commercial developments have focused on the energy extraction from high velocity flows (> 2 m/s), given the priority has been to optimise the potential renewable energy. However there are numerous issues associated with the associated technologies relating to the operation, reliability, maintenance and survivability of turbines in these high energy flows.
Consequently, there is now a need to consider the potential energy from low velocity tidal currents, where some of these issues will not be so paramount and the resulting energy costs make this option economically attractive. Given the different tidal conditions, it is imperative that a feasibility study is first undertaken to analyse the environmental conditions and determine the design parametrics required for a tidal stream turbine to operate in such low velocity flows.
The study will therefore provide information to the tidal turbine developers on the design requirements for a low velocity tidal stream turbine, including the blade geometry and the drive train system as well as a Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) evaluation for comparison with existing technologies.

Planned Impact

Academic Impact: This research will produce academic impacts via three synergistic pathways; collaboration, publication and education.

Collaboration: The project supports collaboration within UK. Four researchers will work on this project with the support of six permanent academic staff.
Collaboration will form the basis of the relationships between the researchers and the organisations offering technology support. Direct links with the technology specialists working within the industrial partners will help direct and underpin the research. Each company will benefit from the exposure of the proposed solutions enabling them share this information with their existing and future customer base.

Publication: Research findings will be disseminated to the marine energy industry and academia through presentations at a conferences, public lectures and journal papers, in due course. In particular, the work will be presented at AWTEC 2019 or other similar international conference, and at least one joint technical paper will be submitted to a refereed journal, such as Renewable Energy.

Education: The success of marine energy as a sustainable industry requires highly skilled and motivated engineers. This in turn requires the raising of the profile of marine energy as a career choice. The work from this project will be directly represented in specialist renewable energy, engineering and oceanographic and environmental undergraduate and master's level programs within the universities. This will include the conduct of projects that will be embedded within the work of the proposed research as well as the provision of specific taught modules. All of the researchers will receive bespoke training as required for their project work, including training from ANSYS for the CFD models.

Economic impact: The marine energy sector faces many challenges if it is to develop further as a viable and sustainable sector. There is a body of advanced technology which currently has provided an excellent basis upon which to build. Nautricity have established their Tidal stream Turbine design and successfully manufactured and tested prototype devices. This research will help to determine if there is the potential to expand current technologies into a new market, namely devices for low velocity (< 2 m/s) flows and build upon existing collaborations between industry and academia.

Impact acceleration into product development will be informed through involvement of the industrial partners.

Societal impacts: Society has an increased expectation in the capacity of the technologies being developed to produce renewable energy. TST technology is complex and its application less visible than most presently deployed energy systems. It must be explained and exploited at the level appropriate to the audience. In the final quarter of the project, a public lecture will be organised, providing an overview of the project, and providing an opportunity for public debate.
The work will also be disseminated to the public, and other beneficiaries, through fully accessible websites at the various collaborators.


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Alcérreca-Huerta J (2019) Energy Yield Assessment from Ocean Currents in the Insular Shelf of Cozumel Island in Journal of Marine Science and Engineering

Description Marine renewable energy development in Mexico. - Prof O'Doherty
Geographic Reach North America 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
Impact Further funding has been agreed between the British Council and Mexican funder for further work. This is the direct result of presenting the findings to Government officials and senior UNAM staff.
Description Newton Fund
Amount £80,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 332324562 
Organisation British Council 
Department British Council - Newton Fund
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 03/2019
Description Collaboration with Mexico 
Organisation National Autonomous University of Mexico
Country Mexico 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Strathclyde and Cardiff partners have brought expertise to the collaboration with their knowledge of turbine design specifically for lower velocities (as a result of this EPSRC project). In addition we have provided LoCE estimates for the potential to generate electricity from the Mexican waters.
Collaborator Contribution The Mexican partners have provided the environmental resource assessment of the Mexican waters including new site specific ADCP measurements.
Impact A mapping of the potential sites around Mexico, specifically around the Cozumel channel, have been identified for further exploration. One joint journal paper and a conference paper have been published to date. Addition papers have been submitted for presentation at the 2020 AWTEC. The collaboration is multi-disciplinary with mechanical and Electrical engineers and Oceanographers involved.
Start Year 2018
Description Invited presentation in Mexico City 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A series of talks were organised for both the UK and Mexican partners to present their work on tidal energy and the potential for development in Mexico. The talks were to both a live audience and streamed around Mexico.
The outcome was immediate talks with potential industrial sub-component developers and government representatives.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019