In this paper preliminary results regarding the assessment of the energy absorption characteristics of an array of wave energy converters (also referred to as a wave farm) are presented. Regular and irregular waves are used as input in a frequency domain hydrodynamic model which allows iterations in the array layout and farm control strategy. Under such an approach each array element can be controlled independently while keeping the design objective (maximisation of the wave farm energy yield).
The approach is initially verified by comparing the solution of the radiation and diffraction problems for the array with the analogous results from a semi- analytic method developed at the University of Oxford. Additional regular wave simulations identify the most promising areas by quantifying the interaction factor as a function of the incident wave frequency and wave heading. Irregular waves which describe representative frequency spectra are then used as input to quantify the power absorption characteristics from an isolated wave energy converter. Finally, the same representative seas are used as input when evaluating the energy absorption by an array of wave energy converters, while iterating on the array layout and control settings associated with each array element.
The overall objective of the study is to quantify the influence of the array layout and farm control in the performance of a wave farm under the action of irregular waves. The results show that the energy yield is affected by such factors, hence these can be seen as key design drivers when considering the potential for reduction in the uncertainty and thus the cost of energy associated with a wave farm. Further studies may address additional constraints, either technical or economical. This study is expected to contribute to the development of specific modules of GH WaveFarmer, a tool that aims to optimise the design of wave farms.