Constructive interference effects for tidal turbine arrays

James McNaughton, Bowen Cao, Anup Nambiar, Thomas Davey, Christopher R. Vogel, Richard H.J. Willden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The performance benefits of deploying tidal turbines in close side-by-side proximity to exploit constructive interference effects are demonstrated experimentally using two 1.2 m diameter turbines. The turbines are arrayed side-by-side at 1/4 diameter tip-to-tip spacing, and their performance compared with that of a single rotor. Tests were completed in the 25 m diameter, 2 m deep wave and current FloWave Ocean Energy Research facility. A detailed assessment of inflow conditions at different control points is used to understand the impact that rotors, designed for high blockage conditions, have on the approach flow. After accounting for global blockage, a 10.8 % uplift in the twin-turbine-averaged power coefficient, relative to that for a single turbine, is found for the turbine design speed, at the expense of a 5.2 % increase in thrust coefficient and 3.1 % increase in tip-speed-ratio. Flowfield mapping demonstrated flow effects at array and device scale including array bypass flows and jetting between turbines. Azimuthal variation of blade root flapwise and edgewise bending moments show that the turbines interact in a beneficial manner, with additional and sustained loading peaks as the blades pass in close proximity to the neighbouring rotor. Peak performance for the twin turbines occurred at a higher tip-speed-ratio than for the single turbine, which is consistent with the twin turbines exerting a higher thrust on the flow to achieve maximum power. The twin turbine performance variation with tip-speed-ratio is found to be more gradual than for the single turbine. Using differential rotor speed control we observe that array performance is robust to small differences in neighbouring rotor operating point. Through these experiments we demonstrate that there is a substantial, achievable performance benefit from closely arraying turbines for side-by-side operation and designing them for constructive interference.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA38
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Early online date16 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2022


  • Geophysical and Geological Flows
  • coastal engineering
  • Waves/Free-surface Flows
  • Channel flow
  • flow-structure interactions


Dive into the research topics of 'Constructive interference effects for tidal turbine arrays'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this