Tidal stream energy is a type of marine renewable energy which is close to commercial-scale production. Tidal stream turbine arrays are considered as the one of the most promising exploitation methods. However, compared to the relatively mature technology of single turbine design and installation, the current knowledge on the hydrodynamic processes of tidal stream turbine arrays is still limited. Coastal models with simplified turbine representations based on the shallow water equation are among the most favorable methods for studying the tidal stream energy extraction processes in realistic sites. This paper presents a review of the progress and challenges in assessing the tidal stream energy.