Flexible operation across a wide range of operating conditions is required to maximise the contribution of tidal turbine arrays to the future energy mix. This study establishes a basin efficiency range of a small array of horizontal axis turbines between 0.45 and 0.79, with dependency on turbine operating point and flow direction. This range is largely due to variation of array thrust as array power varies by less than 15% for all operating points.
Analysis of array thrust, power and wakes was conducted using a RANS actuator disc model and assessed against new experimental measurements using porous discs. RANS array thrust predictions are within 10% of the experimental study. Turbine thrust differs within each array, varying by −60% to +30% compared to isolated turbines. Row-specific operating points reduce this range by a factor of two whilst also increasing the basin efficiency slightly for a given flow speed.
Accounting for time variation of basin efficiency reduces the energy yield by almost 5% relative to arrays modelled with a constant net array thrust coefficient. Arrays with row-specific local thrust coefficients generate similar net power to arrays with velocity-specific array operating points but reduce the occurrences of large rates of change of power.