The behaviour of Tidal Stream Turbines (TST) in the dynamic flow field caused by waves and rotor misalignment to the incoming flow (yaw) is currently unclear. The dynamic loading applied to the turbine could drive the structural design of the power capture and support subsystems, device size and its proximity to the water surface and sea bed. In addition, the strongly bi-directional nature of the flow encountered at many tidal energy sites may lead to devices omitting yaw drives; accepting the additional dynamic loading associated with rotor misalignment and reduced power production in return for a reduction in device capital cost. Therefore it is imperative to quantify potential unsteady rotor loads so that the TST device design accommodates the inflow conditions and avoids an unacceptable increase in maintenance action or, more seriously, suffers sudden structural failure.
The experiments presented in this paper were conducted using a 1:20th scale 3-bladed horizontal axis TST at a large towing tank facility. The turbine had the capability to measure rotor thrust and torque whilst one blade was instrumented to acquire blade root strain, azimuthal position and rotational speed all at high frequency. The maximum out-of-plane bending moment was found to be as much as 9.5 times the in-plane bending moment. A maximum loading range of 175% of the median out-of-plane bending moment and 100% of the median in-plane bending moment was observed for a turbine test case with zero rotor yaw, scaled wave height of 2 m and intrinsic wave period of 12.8 s.
A new tidal turbine-specific Blade-Element Momentum (BEM) numerical model has been developed to account for wave motion and yawed flow effects. This model includes a new dynamic inflow correction which is shown to be in close agreement with the measured experimental loads. The gravitational component was significant to the experimental in-plane blade bending moment and was also included in the BEM model. Steady loading on an individual blade at positive yaw angles was found to be negligible in comparison to wave loading (for the range of experiments conducted), but becomes important for the turbine rotor as a whole, reducing power capture and rotor thrust. The inclusion of steady yaw effects (using the often-applied skewed axial inflow correction) in a BEM model should be neglected when waves are present or will result in poor load prediction reflected by increased loading amplitude in the 1P (once per revolution) phase.