Novel approach to Marine Energy device instrumenting and real-time sensor data processing

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


In order to meet the ever increasing global energy demand, additional energy sources must be explored. With increasing effects of climate change and finite fossil fuels, clean renewable energy must be utilised. Both wind and solar technologies are mature enough to be cost competitive, however, marine energy (tidal and wave technologies) - specifically tidal - is presently at the pre-commercial stage1. Tidal power is both energy dense and predictable, though it is spatially limited, relative geographic constrictions are required.
One major challenge for tidal power progression at present is the lack of knowledge of tidal flow at high energy sites, this contributes to over engineering TECs which directly correspond to large expenses in both construction and levelised cost of energy (LCOE) - price of electricity is not sufficient to generate returns on investments2 . TECs currently replicate the wind industry, though operation conditions are dissimilar. Factors such as: boundary layer, bathymetry, coastline geometries and additional complications are experienced through the interaction between wave and currents throughout the water column.
Site characterisations (required before deployment of TEC) utilise Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs), these devices collect data corresponding to tidal flow, direction and turbulence factors, different variations allow for longer ranges and depths with differing resolutions to be analysed. ADCPs are the most practical and economical instruments for obtaining instantaneous velocity profile measurements3. These data sets are expensive to acquire and only provide information from a single location. They are typically used to calibrate and validate wide-region numerical models which can provide more site-wide information.
ADCPs come with uncertainties such as: random error; calibration; resolution error; device placement & orientation; temperature sensor and data acquisition. Currently, standards exist for determining uncertainties in calibrated instruments and measured results, these are part of the technical specification IEC 62600-200:20134, power performance assessment (PPA). These are largely based on the wind standard IEC 61400-12 PPA5, and there is a need to demonstrate the suitability of these specifically to tidal energy.
The project will be carried out in collaboration with an industrial partner, EMEC and external relationships may be formed with developers throughout the project. Three universities will provide supervision (Edinburgh, Strathclyde and Exeter). The focus is to develop the IEC 62600-200 PPA in relation to uncertainty of results for the power curve. Real-time data processing of instruments will be analysed, exploring solutions to issues found with battery power or cable connection. Where possible, explore techniques and insights from real-time data processing to contribute to PPA. The work will also consider, where appropriate, other Industrial Guidance and work related to the broader challenge of Tidal Resource Characterisation.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S023933/1 30/09/2019 30/03/2028
2274922 Studentship EP/S023933/1 31/08/2019 30/08/2023 Luke Evans