Turbulence Modeling to Aid Tidal Energy Resource Characterization in the Western Passage, Maine, USA

Mithun Deb, Zhaoqing Yang, Taiping Wang, Levi Kilcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus Citations


Numerical models combined with field measurements are regularly used to characterize tidal energy resources at potential energetic sites. However, most existing works only focus on the tidal hydrodynamic characteristics, and turbulence parameters are often not reported because of the lack of high-quality turbulence measurements and the limitations of numerical models in resolving turbulent eddies. In this study, we used FVCOM – a hydrostatic primitive equation (HPE) model – to characterize the tidal energy resource in the Western Passage, Maine, USA, by taking care of the essential macro-scale turbulence properties. We observed an excellent model performance using the Mellor–Yamada Level 2.5 Turbulence Model; estimating the spatial and vertical distribution of the turbulent kinetic energy and intensity added a new perspective to the site ranking for tidal energy converter (TEC) deployments. In addition, we also examined the role of channel geometry and bathymetry, such as headlands and underwater sills, in enhancing turbulent eddies around potential TEC siting locations. Ultimately, the detailed analysis of the turbulent flow characteristics has changed the site-ranking results and demonstrated that the regional-scale HPE models could be used for the relative understanding of more or less turbulent sites for a refined resource assessment.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number118694
JournalRenewable Energy
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Battelle Memorial Institute, National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5700-86042


  • Marine renewable energy
  • Numerical modeling
  • Resource characterization
  • Tidal energy converters
  • Tidal stream energy
  • Turbulence


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