A Large-Eddy Simulation Study of Wake Propagation and Power Production in an Array of Tidal-Current Turbines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus Citations


This paper presents our initial work in performing large-eddy simulations of tidal turbine array flows. First, a horizontally periodic precursor simulation is performed to create turbulent flow data. Then those data are used as inflow into a tidal turbine array two rows deep and infinitely wide. The turbines are modelled using rotating actuator lines, and the finite-volume method is used to solve the governing equations. In studying the wakes created by the turbines, we observed that the vertical shear of the inflow combined with wake rotation causes lateral wake asymmetry. Also, various turbine configurations are simulated, and the total power production relative to isolated turbines is examined. We found that staggering consecutive rows of turbines in the simulated configurations allows the greatest efficiency using the least downstream row spacing. Counter-rotating consecutive downstream turbines in a non-staggered array shows a small benefit. This work has identified areas for improvement. For example, using a larger precursor domain would better capture elongated turbulent structures, and including salinity and temperature equations would account for density stratification and its effect on turbulence. Additionally, the wall shear stress modelling could be improved, and more array configurations could be examined.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 20120421
Number of pages15
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number1985
StatePublished - 28 Feb 2013

Bibliographical note

See NREL/JA-5000-55194 for preprint

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-57882


  • Array
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Large-eddy simulation
  • Tidal
  • Turbine


Dive into the research topics of 'A Large-Eddy Simulation Study of Wake Propagation and Power Production in an Array of Tidal-Current Turbines'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this