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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R007322/1
Title: Tidal Stream Energy - Designing for Performance
Principal Investigator: Willden, Professor RHJ
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Engineering Science
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 January 2018 Ends: 31 December 2022 Value (£): 1,024,449
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy - Marine & Hydropower
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
05 Sep 2017 Eng Fellowship Interviews Sept 2017 Announced
06 Jun 2017 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 6 and 7 June 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The fellowship will provide leadership in tidal stream energy research that will promote cost and risk reduction, through design for increased performance, maintainability and reliability, thus accelerating the realization of commercial energy supply from tidal streams.

Tidal stream energy can make a substantial contribution to UK and worldwide renewable energy targets, helping to achieve emissions reductions and climate change objectives. The potential for energy generation by hydrokinetic tidal stream turbines is well accepted and the predictability of the resource is a significant benefit that will facilitate integration into the wider electricity system. Tidal stream energy offers an as yet largely untapped source of renewable energy; global resources are estimated at 100 to 500 TWh/yr, with around 20 TWh/yr estimated to be within the UK's waters. Various commercial tidal stream systems are under development with most emphasis on design and control of individual turbines. There has been some cascade of knowledge and technology from the wind energy industry. Turbines are typically 15-20 m in diameter, rated capacity 1-2 MW at flow speeds of around 2-3 m/s, and designed to be deployed in flows of up to 40 m depth. Over the next few years the first small scale tidal stream turbine arrays, 5-20 MW each, are planned to be deployed in France and the UK.

However, significant improvements in performance, reliability, deployability, maintainability and thus economic viability are needed if tidal stream energy is to be deployed at a sufficiently large scale to contribute to commercial electricity markets. This requires that power output per MW installed is increased, expenditure per MW installed and the risk of cost variations are reduced. Installation costs are both high and extremely variable, with current cost estimated at £200/MWh reducing to £120/MWh accounting for future economies in scale production and deployment.

The, sometimes implicit, assumption, and basis f current tidal farm proposals, is that turbines will be installed on individual seabed mountings in an underwater wind turbine style farm with turbines positioned to minimally interact with each other. Motivated by the necessity to dramatically improve the economic viability of tidal installations, this proposal will challenge these assumptions and seek revolutionary new solutions in the form of closely coupled turbine arrays using constructive interference effects to enhance array performance. It is known that there is a potential uplift in performance of up to 35% available through arraying turbines in a multi-rotor fence that partially spans the width of a much wider channel (Nishino & Willden 2012). This fellowship will seek to develop the underlying science, engineering tools and rotor designs required to deliver this significant performance uplift and the inferred expected reduction in cost of energy of circa 10-20%. A combination of analytic, numerical and experimental activities will be used to deliver the understanding, engineering tools and design guidelines for turbines designed to operate in confined tidal channels, multi-rotor tidal fences incorporating mutual constructive interference effects, high speed rotors, design against cavitation, and flow and pitch control strategies.

This fellowship will involve close and sustained engagement with both the academic and industrial marine energy communities, internationally as well as within the UK. Academic engagement will be achieved through traditional publication means, journal articles, international conferences and workshops, as well as active participation in the UK academic marine energy network UKCMER, and in international academic collaborations. The resulting turbine technologies, engineering models and design guidelines will be developed in close cooperation with the tidal energy industry in order to maximise impact and accelerate the realization of commercial energy supply from tidal streams.
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Organisation Website: http://www.ox.ac.uk