The development of wave energy for utility-scale electricity production requires an understanding of how wave energy converters will interact with each other when part of a wave farm. Without this understanding it is difficult to calculate the energy yield from a wave farm and consequently the optimal wave farm layout and configuration cannot be determined. In addition, the uncertainty in a wave farm’s energy yield will increase the cost of finance for the project, which ultimately increases the cost of energy.
Numerical modelling of wave energy converter arrays, based on potential flow, has provided some initial indications of the strength of array interactions and optimal array configurations; however, there has been limited validation of these numerical models. Moreover, the cross-validation that has been completed has been for relatively small arrays of wave energy converters. To provide some validation for large array interactions wave basin testing of three different configurations of up to 24 wave energy converters has been completed. All tests used polychromatic (irregular) sea-states, with a range of long-crested and short-crested seas, to provide validation in realistic conditions.
The physical model array interactions are compared to those predicted by a numerical model and the suitability of the numerical and physical models analysed. The results are analysed at three different levels and all provide support for the cross-validation of the two models. The differences between the physical and numerical model are also identified and the implications for improving the modelling discussed.