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Title: The impact of tidal stream farms on flood risk in estuaries
Author: Garcia-Oliva, Miriam
ISNI:       0000 0004 5917 1170
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2016
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There is a growing interest in tidal energy, owing to its predictable nature in comparison to other renewable sources. In the case of the UK, its importance also lies on the availability of exploitable areas as well as their total capacity, which is estimated to cover more than 20% of the country demand. However, the level of development of this kind of technology is still far behind other types of renewable energy. However, several studies focused on a variety of individual devices, followed by more recent research on the deployment of large arrays or tidal farms. Potential sites for energy extraction can be found in narrows between islands and the coast or estuaries. The latter present some advantages for the installation and the connection to the grid but estuaries are often prone to flood risk from tides and surges. Therefore, the objective of this thesis is to evaluate the effect that very large groups of turbines could have on peak water levels during flooding events in the case of being deployed in estuarine areas. For that purpose, a new methodology has been developed, which implies the use of a numerical model (MIKE 21 by DHI), and it has been demonstrated against a real case study in the UK: the Solway Firth estuary. Another objective has consisted of integrating in this thesis the results from detailed CFD modelling and optimisation techniques involved in the project. A literature review has been carried out in order to identify the current state of the art for the different subjects considered in the thesis. Different aspects of the numerical model used for this study (MIKE 21) have been presented and the modelling of the turbines within the code has been validated against experimental and CFD data. The procedure to include large numbers of turbines in the code is also developed. An analysis has been done of the different estuaries existing in the UK suitable for tidal energy extraction, identifying their main geometrical features. Based on this, idealised models of estuaries have been used to assess the influence that the channel geometry could have on the impact of tidal farms under extreme water levels. The effect has been measured by comparing the results of the numerical model between the case with and without turbines under different flooding scenarios. Finally, the same methodology has been applied to a real case study selected from the previous group of estuaries namely the Solway Firth. An initial model has been created, according to the available data at the start of the research, which contained some errors related to the water depth at the intertidal areas in the upper estuary. Therefore, when a more realistic dataset became available, an improved model was created. The improved model has been used to assess the effects of tidal farms in the estuary under a coastal flooding event. It is concluded that there is significant influence of the channel geometry over the locations where the maximum changes in water levels due to the tidal farms will happen. Nevertheless, the effects seem to be more relevant in terms of the decrease rather than the increase of peak water levels for all geometries and the maximum changes seem to be in the order of dm. This is in agreement with the results of the Solway Firth models and can be summarised as a positive net effect over flood risk. On the other hand, a concern has been raised about the impact on intertidal areas, which could be the subject of future research.
Supervisor: Tabor, Gavin ; Djordjevic, Slobodan Sponsor: University of Exeter ; EPSRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: tidal energy ; numerical modelling FVM ; flood risk assessment ; MIKE21 ; estuaries ; hydrodynamics ; cross-flow turbines