Optimization of Marine Renewable Energy Systems

Matthew D. Piggott, Stephan C. Kramer, Simon Funke, David Culley, Athanasios Angeloudis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Optimizing marine renewable energy systems to maximize performance is key to their success. However, a range of physical, environmental, engineering, economic as well as computational challenges means that this is not straightforward. This article considers this topic, focusing on those systems whose performance is coupled to the hydrodynamics providing the resource; tidal power represents a clear example of this. In such cases system design must be optimal in relation to the resource׳s magnitude as well as its spatial and temporal variation, which are all dependent on the system׳s configuration and operation and so cannot be assumed to be known at the design stage.

Designing based on the ambient resource could lead to under-performance. Coupling between the design and the resource has implications for the complexity of the optimization problem and potential hydrodynamical and environmental impacts. This coupling distinguishes many marine energy systems from other renewables which do not impact in any significant manner on the resource. The optimal design of marine energy systems thus represents a challenging and somewhat unique problem. However, feedback also opens up a number of possibilities where the resource can be ‘controlled’, to maximize the cumulative power obtained from multiple devices or plants, or to achieve some other complementary goal.

Design optimization is thus critical, with many issues to consider. Due to the complexity of the problem a computational based solution is a necessity in all but the simplest scenarios. However, the coupled feedback requires that an iterative solution approach be used, which combined while the vast range of spatial and temporal scales means that methodological compromises need to be made. These compromises need to be understood, with the correct computational tool used at the appropriate point in the design process. This article reviews these challenges as well as the progress that has been made in addressing them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComprehensive Renewable Energy
PublisherElsevier B.V.
ISBN (Print)978-0-12-819734-9
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2022


  • Tidal stream
  • Tidal range
  • optimization
  • modelling


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