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December 10, 2013
Scientists from Bangor University are working to help developers make the most of a vital renewable energy source.
The university is playing a crucial role as the UK leads the world in the development of tidal and wave technology.
Experts from the School of Ocean Sciences are using computer models to accurately predict tidal currents, wave heights and other important measurements throughout the water column.
Their work helps to develop the industry by identifying the best sea states, tidal flows and accessibility for wave and tidal devices, and to test the behaviour of prototypes and commercial scale turbines.
“Initial work has shown companies how devices might operate at normal and extreme sea states in different locations,” explains Dr. Reza Hashemi, SEACAMS modeller at the university’s School of Ocean Sciences.
“Our developing 3-D models will predict variation in water velocity throughout the column, which will influence the way the devices are positioned, and will also model the impact devices will have on the surrounding environment.”
Scientists are providing state-of-the-art expertise and facilities to companies through the SEACAMS programme, an initiative part funded by the Welsh European Funding Office.
Marine Current Turbines (MCT) is one of the companies developing large-scale tidal current energy generation technology and is set to deliver the first tidal energy converters in the UK.
Its SeaGen tidal energy converters are to be used in the Skerries off the north-west coast of Anglesey, where consent is in place for an array of up to 10MW capacity.
MCT has worked with the SEACAMS modelling team to understand the best sites for future development of marine energy farms.
Dr Scott Couch, principal resource analyst at MCT, said: “Hydrodynamic modelling is a valuable way to rapidly identify the best sites to deliver the optimum performance from our tidal energy converters by understanding more about the changing physical environment they will be operating in over long time periods.”
The numerical models used are complex and require large quantities of processing power and modelling expertise. The SEACAMS programme gives companies funded access to these resources.
Dr Stephanie Merry, head of marine at the Renewable Energy Association, said: “This important sector is moving from being a developing technology to commercial viability and will be able to deliver significant clean energy for the UK.
“Many of the players in this market are small and medium enterprises and the type of research support and academic expertise offered by the SEACAMS programme is very welcome in creating confidence in the technology and its bank-ability.”