Using blade element momentum theory to predict the effect of wave-current interactions on the performance of tidal stream turbines

Song Fu, Stephanie Ordonez-Sanchez, Rodrigo Martinez, Matthew Allmark, Cameron Johnstone, Tim O’doherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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The non-uniformity and dynamics of the environment tidal stream turbines need to operate within will significantly influence the durability and reliability of tidal energy systems. The loadings on the turbine will increase substantially when the turbine is deployed in high magnitude waves with non-uniform tidal currents. The limitations of numerical solutions will be understood when the outcomes are verified with empirical data from system operations. In this paper, a Blade Element Momentum model is used to predict and compare the performance of a scaled turbine within a flume and a tow tank. Firstly, the numerical and experimental work is analysed for a turbine operating at flow speeds of 0.5m/s and 1.0 m/s, wave heights of 0.2 m and 0.4 m and wave periods of 1.5 s and 1.7 s. Good agreement between the model and the experimental work was observed. However, in low TSRs the model tends to under predict the thrust, and the variation between the maximum and minimum values obtained within the experiments. Secondly, a turbine operating at flow speeds of 1.0 m/s and 4 different inflow profiles is analysed, where the wave heights for these cases were 0.09 m and 0.19 m and with wave periods of 2 s and 1.43 s. In this evaluation, the model tends to over predict the values of CT and CP when compared to those calculated from the experimental data. However, when investigating the values used to calculating both the thrust and torque coefficients, there is better agreement with these, which means the methodology used to determine these coefficients with inflow profiles should be revised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-36
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Marine Energy Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2021


  • blade element momentum theory
  • experiments
  • inflow profile
  • loading
  • tidal turbine
  • wave-current interactions


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