The Potential for Tidal Range Energy Systems to Provide Continuous Power: A UK Case Study

Lucas Mackie, Daniel Coles, Matthew D. Piggott, Athanasios Angeloudis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The extraction of tidal energy from head differences represents a predictable and flexible option for generating electricity. Here, we investigate the generation potential of prospective tidal power plants in the UK. Originally conceived as separate projects, operating these schemes as a cooperative system could prove beneficial. Combined with the inherent operational flexibility of tidal range-based schemes, a notable tidal phase difference in selected sites allows for the system to spread power generation over a larger proportion of the day. Using depth-averaged modelling and gradient-based optimisation techniques, we explore how a flexible cumulative operation schedule could be applied to provide a degree of continuous supply if desirable. While fully continuous operation is not achieved, a number of different optimisation schedules deliver cumulative continuous supply for over half of the year. The average minimum cumulative power output on these days is consistently over 500 MW out of a total installed capacity of 6195.3 MW. Furthermore, by introducing financial incentives associated with reliable, baseload supply, we provide an economic assessment of the tidal power plant system. The daily minimum cumulative power output determines income in the modelled idealised baseload market, while excess supply is traded in an hourly variable wholesale energy market. Results indicate that subsidies would be required in order to make a pursuit of continuous generation financially advantageous over energy maximisation strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number780
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2020


  • Tidal range energy
  • resource variability
  • energy extraction
  • optimisation
  • baseload demand
  • flexible operation
  • Numerical modelling


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