One key step of the industrial development of a tidal energy device is the testing of scale prototype devices within a controlled laboratory environment. At present, there is no available experimental protocol which addresses in a quantitative manner the differences which can be expected between results obtained from the different types of facilities currently employed for this type of testing. As a consequence, where differences between results are found it has been difficult to confirm the extent to which these differences relate to the device performance or to the test facility type.
In the present study, a comparative “Round Robin” testing programme has been conducted as part of the EC FP VII MaRINET program in order to evaluate the impact of different experimental facilities on the test results. The aim of the trials was to test the same model tidal turbine in four different test facilities to explore the sensitivity of the results to the choice of facility. The facilities comprised two towing tanks, of very different size, and two circulating water channels.
Performance assessments in terms of torque, drag and inflow speed showed very similar results in all facilities. However, expected differences between the different tank types (circulating and towing) were observed in the fluctuations of torque and drag measurements. The main facility parameters which can influence the behaviour of the turbine were identified; in particular the effect of blockage was shown to be significant in cases yielding for high thrust coefficients, even at relatively small blockage ratios.