Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Hydrokinetic tidal energy resource assessments using numerical models

April 10, 2017

Hyrdokinetic tidal energy is the conversion of tidal current kinetic energy to another more useful form, frequently electricity. As with any other form of renewable energy, resource assessments are essential for the tidal energy project planning and design process. While tidal currents have significant spatial and temporal variability, the predictability of tidal flows makes deterministic modeling a suitable methodology for hydrokinetic tidal energy resource assessments. The scope (theoretical, technical, or practical resource) and scale (turbine, region, or project) of the assessment determine the basic concepts and methodology to be utilized and are described in this chapter. At the turbine scale, the technical resource is frequently quantified as the annual energy production (AEP) computed based on the velocity probability distribution for the specific location as well as the turbine properties. The uncertainty associated with the estimates of the AEP is highly dependent on the accuracy of the tidal constituent amplitudes and phases. Regional resource assessments are frequently used to determine the feasibility of tidal power at the scale of an estuary, using numerical models to predict the spatial distribution of the power density. In addition, simplified models or even analytical analysis can be done to produce an upper bound on the regional theoretical power, although with a high level of uncertainty due to the simplifications and assumptions. Resource assessments at the project scale provide both the theoretical and the technical energy as well as the practical energy accounting for many additional constraints, including social, economic, and environmental restrictions. The International Electrotechnical Commission technical specification for tidal energy resource assessments (IEC 2015) provides the essential guidelines for performing project-scale resource assessments. These guidelines include minimum grid resolution requirements as well as model calibration and validation procedures. In addition, larger projects will need to include the effect of energy extraction on the flow field to produce more accurate estimates of velocity probability distributions for computing the technical resource. An example case study demonstrating a regional feasibility and project-scale resource assessment is presented in this chapter.

Publication Year 2017
Title Hydrokinetic tidal energy resource assessments using numerical models
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-53536-4_4
Authors Kevin Haas, Zafer Defne, Xiufeng Yang, Brittany Bruder
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70240953
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center