Journal of Fluid Mechanics


Tuning tidal turbines in-concert to maximise farm efficiency


a1 Ocean Physics Group, Department of Marine Science, University of Otago, Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand


Tuning is essential to maximise the output of turbines extracting power from tidal currents. To realise a large fraction of a narrow channel's potential, rows of turbines not only have to be tuned for a particular tidal channel, they must also be tuned in the presence of all the other rows, i.e. ‘tuned in-concert’. The necessity for in-concert tuning to maximise farm efficiency occurs because the tuning of any one row affects a channel's total drag coefficient and hence the flow through all other rows. Surprisingly, in several circumstances the optimal in-concert tunings are the same or almost the same for all rows. Firstly, in both constricted and unconstricted channels, rows with the same turbine density have the same optimal tuning. Secondly, turbine rows in channels with a quasi-steady dynamical balance typically have almost the same optimal in-concert tunings, irrespective of their turbine density or any channel constrictions. Channel constrictions, occupying a large fraction of the cross-section or adding more rows of turbines, also make optimal tunings more uniform between rows. Adding turbines to a cross-section increases a farm's efficiency. However, in a law of diminishing returns for quasi-steady channels, turbine efficiency (the output per turbine) decreases as turbines are added to a cross-section. In contrast, for inertial channels with only moderate constrictions, turbine efficiency increases as turbines are added to a cross-section.

(Received August 11 2010)

(Revised August 11 2010)

(Accepted November 28 2010)

(Online publication March 07 2011)

Key words:

  • coastal engineering;
  • shallow water flows;
  • topographic effects


c1 Email address for correspondence:

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