How can we improve the feasibility of renewable tidal stream energy production?

Single-beam profilers from Nortek.
Research into tidal energy resources is becoming increasingly significant in a world where greater emphasis is placed upon ensuring renewable energy is sourced reliably and efficiently. What are researchers currently doing to improve the feasibility of tidal stream technology?

Since 2018, the University of Edinburgh has been working in partnership with the US Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) under PNNL’s Research and Development program. This partnership aims to provide proof of concept for a high-resolution convergent current measurement system to improve spatial characterization of complex tidal flows. Fundamentally, the project requires the ability to adjust the positioning of the system’s focal point formed by multiple single-beam Doppler profilers, sampling at rates and cell sizes historically unattainable with standard ADCPs. 

To support further research in this field, Nortek has recently completed a custom delivery of seven bespoke single-beam Doppler profilers to a team of researchers led by Dr Brian Sellar at the University of Edinburgh.   

Identifying the primary failure points of tidal turbines

One of the first applications of the new single-beam profilers will be for the RealTide project, an EU Horizon 2020 funded research program aiming to identify the primary failure points of tidal turbines when deployed in energetic tidal environments. Part of this analysis requires high-resolution imagery of turbulence and waves at key locations to characterize the environmental stresses affecting turbines.

Nortek has supported applications of this nature since the first single-beam systems were delivered to the University of Edinburgh in 2012 during the Reliable Data Acquisition Platform for Tidal (ReDAPT) project. Based on an earlier platform, the first single-beam profilers provided valuable insights into tidal resources.

Improving the understanding of the operational environment 

According to Mairi Dorward, a doctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh, “Integrating the single-beam Signatures into our future deployments will further increase measurement resolution of velocity and turbulence, improving our understanding of the environment in which marine renewable technologies operate.”

Using the innovative AD2CP platform – now incorporated into Nortek’s Signature series – the new single-beam profilers will enable faster and finer current measurements over greater distances than existing ADCP systems. 

Single-beam profilers ready for shipment from Nortek’s headquarters near Oslo, Norway.


Acknowledgements: This research was enabled by funding from the Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a multi-program national laboratory operated by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy. The research was also supported by the RealTide project – a European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (Grant Agreement 727689) – and an International Exchange Grant (2018) from the UK Energy Technology Partnership’s Postgraduate and Early Career Researchers Exchanges scheme.


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