Tidal stream turbine technology is currently at the full scale prototype phase with much of the technology adapted from the wind industry. The challenges that face this emerging technology are complicated by the medium in which they operate. Higher structural loading and the addition of biological fouling from marine life with increased material corrosion from salts are just some of the operational issues. Tidal stream turbines are therefore required to possess a higher degree of robustness than wind turbines, with the ability to operate with limited maintenance schedules while limiting embedded CO2 associated with manufacture, installation, decommissioning and shore-to-site transportation.
The early development of a holistic supply chain for the growing technology is also crucial if tidal technology is to expand seamlessly into being a viable economic energy resource. Due to the cost and accessibility of the technology, HATTs are initially being developed in waters between 30 m and 40 m deep. It is known that at depths of 30 m and 40 m depths the total UK resource is around 16%. However, it is estimated that approximately 80% of the total tidal stream resource is actually in depths greater than 40 m where potentially future development will expand to include arrays of devices.
Working on case study 3, CMERG is part of the marine Low Carbon Research Institute (LCRI) as well as UK Centre for Marine Energy Research (UKCMER) and is working closely with Earth and Ocean Sciences also at Cardiff University along with other Welsh Universities such as Swansea, Aberystwyth and Bangor.
Research topics: Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Fluid-Structure-Interaction (FSI), Prototype testing and validation, Condition based monitoring.