Field demonstration of the capabilities of X-band radar for coastal remote sensing

Lead Research Organisation: National Oceanography Centre
Department Name: UNLISTED


A marine radar will be installed overlooking the planned turbine deployment site over the winter period of 2012-13. Data will be collected and either post processed or where possible analysed in near real time at the site. The intern will spend time with Meygen to understand the potential uses of radar derived data products and tailor them in terms of format and content to enable most effective use by the company.
Description This internship set out to showcase the application of state-of-the-art X-band radar oceanography developed at the NOC to a challenging and dynamic Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) site in the Inner Sound of Stroma, North Scotland. The MRE company MeyGen ltd is poised to begin construction of the world's first commercial tidal stream turbine array in the area and as their primary capital resource is the flow of tidal currents their revenue predictions are closely tied to an exacting knowledge of the hydrodynamics of the Inner Sound. As such a wider, contextual knowledge of tidal currents and sea surface conditions were identified as key benefits to MeyGen, both in reducing future costs by limiting the number of in-situ, vessel-based surveys required and by ensuring correct turbine placement (and therefore maximum power extraction) through numerical model validation.

The NOC conducted a 3 month marine X-band radar field survey from a remote location overlooking the Inner Sound. The challenging nature of the environment created the need for tailored operational solutions which will be applicable at most MRE sites (which by their nature are remote). Radar image data was post-processed using the NOC's research-grade current analysis algorithms to create maps of tidal flow vectors over the survey period. Validation was performed using ADCP data supplied by MeyGen to an excellent degree of agreement which will provide MeyGen and the rest of the MRE sector increased confidence in radar oceanography.

Apart from a well-validated current data set, contextual information on sea-surface conditions related to turbulence was provided using image processing algorithms recently developed at the NOC. This surface roughness data provided information on the position of horizontal shear zones and turbulent wakes which are important considerations in turbine fatigue analysis and therefore future revenue calculation. Information such as this is difficult to gather from single in-situ surveys, allowing the radar data set to augment and enhance MeyGen's understanding of the dynamics of the site as a whole.

In summary, the internship provided unique, valuable data products to an MRE company, allowing them a fuller understanding of their tidal stream site and a demonstration of the operation of X-band radar technology and analysis techniques required for their production.
Exploitation Route The data-set and the analyses developed during the internship are now being used and taken forward at the NOC, deriving further data products from X-band measurements and producing publishable material relating to the coastal ocean processes of the Inner Sound of Stroma.

The excellent tidal current data-set and it's analysis has already been used by MeyGen Ltd to help inform them of tidal turbine placement as well as de-risking the operation as a whole. The internship report has attracted attention from others in the marine renewable energy sector who are now looking to the use of X-band radar measurements at other MRE sites in the UK and abroad.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Environment

Description New oceanographic observational techniques pioneered at the NOC have been transitioned into first usage in a commercial, UK infrastructure project. The increased understanding of the resource in MeyGen's lease area has increased the confidence of their investors and increased the likelihood of project completion and eventual commercial success. The internship report has been widely disseminated and stands as an excellent case study of the benefits of X-band radar oceanography and NERC/NOC science to the MRE sector as a whole.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Energy
Impact Types Economic