Hydrodynamic modelling may not be the first thing innovators think of when they embark on creating new wave and tidal technology, but the data obtained from such models really can make a difference to the commercial viability of devices.
In short, hydrodynamic modelling is the study of fluids in motion to: simulate waves; tides, currents; sediment transport; and morphology change in the coastal zone - all important considerations when developing wave and tidal power devices.
To start with, it’s important that demonstration zones have enough energy to be useful, which can be established with an energy resource assessment. Researchers do this by taking information about the seabed and coastline and combining it with a selection of metocean conditions, such as tides and winds. They then run the model on a super computer to give predictions of water level conditions, current speeds and directions before using this information to predict the extractable energy at the site.
HR Wallingford recently did just this for the Morlais demonstration zone off the coast of Anglesey and also helped Menter Môn, the not-for-profit company running the project to prepare its environmental statement in order to gain a marine licence. The team assessed the direct impact of the zone on flow speeds, waves and sediment transport, as well as more detailed energy resource assessments for specific devices. They also investigated sediment transport impacts at key features such as the Gogarth Bay and Abraham’s Bosom sediment deposit zones; the South Stack Banner Bank and the pocket beaches on Holy Island.