Tidal energy has the advantages of high predictability, high energy density, and limited environmental impacts. As tidal turbines are expected to be used in the most energetic waters where there might be significant waves, the assessment of unsteady hydrodynamic load due to surface waves is of great concern. The objective of this paper is to assess the effects of surface waves and submergence of the turbine on the power performance and loads of a tidal turbine by experimental approach. The experiments on a 1 : 25th model tidal turbine were carried out in a towing tank. A wide range of regular waves with periods from 1.0 s to 3.0 s at model scale were generated. Different submergence conditions were considered to investigate the effects of the presence of free surface. The cases with blade tip partly going out of water were also performed. The regular waves did not have significant influences on average loads and power output in the present experiments, but caused large amplitude of the cyclic variation of the loads. The amplitudes of the cyclic load were proved to be proportional to the incident wave height, and to be sensitive to the wave frequency and submergence of the rotor. As the tidal turbine getting close to free surface, significant waves were induced by the underwater rotating blade. The effects of surface waves and submergence need to be taken into account in design.

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