Tidal stream turbines are subject to complex flow conditions, particularly when installed in staggered array configurations where the downstream turbines are affected by the wake and/or bypass flow of upstream turbines. This work presents, for the first time, methods for and results from the physical testing of three 1/15 scale instrumented turbines configured in a closely-spaced staggered array, and demonstrates experimentally that increased power extraction can be achieved through reduced array separation. A comprehensive set of flow measurements was taken during several weeks testing in the FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility, with different configurations of turbines installed in the tank in a current of
m/s, to understand the effect that the front turbines have on flow through the array and on the inflow to the centrally placed rearmost turbine. Loads on the turbine structure, rotor, and blade roots were measured along with the rotational speed of the rotor to assess concurrently in real-time the effects of flow and array geometry on structural loading and performance. Operating in this closely-spaced array was found to improve the power delivered by the rear turbine by 5.7–10.4% with a corresponding increase in the thrust loading on the rotor of 4.8–7.3% around the peak power operating point. The experimental methods developed and results arising from this work will also be useful for further scale-testing elsewhere, validating numerical models, and for understanding the performance and loading of full-scale tidal stream turbines in arrays.
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