Tidal stream energy may have the potential to contribute to the baseline energy needs of the UK. There is a significant difference between the existing assessments of the UK’s resource, highlighting the need for a standardised model. The paper investigates some challenges of quantifying tidal stream energy. This study examines the sensitivity of resource assessments to low-order parameters, in order to inform higher order modelling and contribute to defining a standardised model. A combination of channel characteristics, turbine parameters and simulation settings formed the basis of 96+ cases to determine key parameters affecting resource assessments. Two 0-dimensional, idealised channels were modelled using 2-8 constituents from four UK sites spanning the semi-diurnal form factor range. Blockage-corrected blade element momentum theory was used to represent variable-speed, variable-pitch turbines. Three blockage designed rotors and one rotor designed for an unspecified blockage were simulated. Power capping and combined power and thrust capping were implemented.
The study indicates dynamic balance is a key parameter affecting tidal dynamics when turbines are present in a channel. Variability of annual energy production due to the nodal cycle was most significant in the drag dominated channel with increasing blockage. Constituents with large amplitude and phase differences led to greater variability of the resource across the nodal cycle. Results indicate that the maximum deviation from the average annual energy production over the 18.6-year nodal cycle is +/- 8.8%. At a low form factor site, the difference between using 2 or 4 constituents was insignificant. However, for a higher form factor site, that is still semi-diurnal, the peak velocity increases by 0.32 m/s with 8 constituents compared to 2. Random Forest modelling indicates that the most important characteristic point on a variable-speed, variable-pitch turbine performance curve is the rated speed. Comparison of capping strategies highlights that combined power and thrust capping leads to an increase in energy per swept area. Combined capping decreased the variability of the resource over the nodal cycle, which is helpful to maintain a steady supply to the grid and sizing energy storage systems.