Electricity generation from tidal current can provide a reliable and predictable addition to a reduced carbon energy sector in the future. Following the deployment of the first multi-turbine array, significant cost reduction can be achieved by moving beyond demonstrator projects to large scale tidal turbine arrays. The interactions between multiple turbines installed in close proximity can affect the total electricity generation and thus require knowledge of the resulting flow field within and downstream of the array.

Results are presented for experimental and numerical studies investigating the flow field characteristics in terms of velocity deficit and turbulence intensity in a staggered tidal turbine array section. Multiple configuration with varying longitudinal and transverse spacing between devices in a three-turbine array are tested.

Comparison between numerical and experimental flow characteristics shows that open source numerical models with dynamic mesh features achieve good agreement and can be used for the investigation of array wake effects. The standard k–ω SST shows good agreement with experiments at reduced computational efficiency compared to higher order turbulence models (RSM). The importance of mixing with ambient flow is highlighted by identifying areas of significantly reduced velocity recovery within closely spaced arrays where ambient flow does not penetrate between adjacent wakes.

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