Tidal stream energy impacts on estuarine circulation

Journal Article

Title: Tidal stream energy impacts on estuarine circulation
Publication Date:
April 01, 2014
Journal: Energy Conversion and Management
Volume: 80
Pages: 137-149
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd.
Technology Type:

Document Access

Website: External Link


Ramos, V.; Carballo, R.; Sanchez, M.; Veigas, M.; Iglesias, G. (2014). Tidal stream energy impacts on estuarine circulation. Energy Conversion and Management, 80, 137-149.

Among the impacts on the marine environment associated with the operation of a tidal farm, the alteration of the transient and residual flow velocities must be assessed in detail, for they constitute the driving force of important environmental processes such as sediment and pollutant transport, and nutrient dispersion. The objective of this study is to assess the impacts caused by the operation of a tidal farm on the transient and residual flow by means of a case study: a tidal stream farm in Ria de Ribadeo, an estuary in NW Spain. For this purpose a 3D numerical model of the estuary is implemented and successfully validated based on field data of tidal levels and flow velocities. The energy extracted by the tidal stream farm from the flow is accounted for by adding a momentum sink term in the equations of the model. Two scenarios representative of typical winter and summer conditions are considered. The results show that the disturbances to the transient flow patterns are concentrated in the proximity of the farm, with a weakening of the flow upstream and, especially, downstream of the farm (up to 0.25 ms−1) and an intensification on both sides (up to 0.10 ms−1). As for the residual flow, we find that the operation of the tidal farm does not disrupt the complex 3D residual circulation of the ria, but it does lead to modifications of the residual flow of up to 0.025 ms−1, or approximately 10% of the baseline residual flow, which affect a much larger area than in the case of the transient flow (up to approximately 2 km from the farm). The repercussions of these alterations of the transient and residual flow patterns of the estuary for its sedimentary and biological processes warrant further research. Overall, these results confirm the importance of assessing the impacts of a tidal stream farm on the flow.


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