Modelling Marine Renewable Energy Devices; Designing for Survivability

Host Institution: Imperial College London

Principal Investigator: Professor Chris Swan

The primary aim of the project is the assessment of the extreme wave loads on WECs using numerical models validated against experimental observations and full-scale prototype data. The project team combines institutions with significant experience in research into extreme waves (Imperial College), wave energy converters (Queen’s University Belfast) and numerical modelling (Manchester Metropolitan University), forming a strong and well- balanced consortium. They will be supported by a steering committee comprising a number of key industrial practitioners and stakeholders, bringing in a wide range of backgrounds from device developers, certifying bodies and the offshore industry.

In designing wave energy converters (WECs), scientists and engineers face the challenge of having to compromise between two competing criteria. The power take-off, with all associated mechanical and electrical components having to be optimised for an annual average or nominal sea state. At the same time all these components will have to withstand large storm events, where the applied fluid loads are substantially higher compared to the nominal sea state. A successful design is inevitably characterised by one that balances these two criteria. Identifying such a balance at an early design stage (prior to expensive small or large scale physical model testing) requires accurate, reliable and efficient numerical models appropriate to both design criteria. Survivability defines the long term success of a WEC, and must be addressed by design.