This paper presents a novel theoretical and computational methodology for the generation of an onset turbulent field with prescribed properties in the numerical simulation of an arbitrary viscous flow. The methodology is based on the definition of a suitable distribution of volume force terms in the right-hand side of the Navier–Stokes equations. The distribution is represented by harmonic functions that are randomly variable in time and space. The intensity of the distribution is controlled by a simple PID strategy in order to obtain that the generated turbulent flow matches a prescribed turbulence intensity. A further condition is that a homogeneous isotropic flow is established downstream of the region where volume force terms are imposed. Although it is general, the proposed methodology is primarily intended for the computational modelling of hydrokinetic turbines in turbulent flows representative of tidal or riverine installations. A first numerical application is presented by considering the injection of homogeneous and isotropic turbulence with 16% intensity into a uniform unbounded flow. The analysis of statistical properties as auto-correlation, power spectral density, probability density functions, demonstrates that the generated flow tends to achieve satisfactory levels of stationarity and isotropy, whereas the simple control strategy used determines underestimated turbulent intensity levels.