Tidal currents at many locations around the world have great potential to be used as a large scale renewable energy resource in the future. For large tidal turbine arrays to be commercially viable, the interactions of large devices operating in a confined operating environment need to be understood to optimise the layout of arrays to maximise electricity generation.

This study presents results from a comprehensive experimental investigation of the flow field characteristics within tidal turbine arrays across a number of array layout configurations and current velocities. Up to four small scale turbines were placed in a circulating water channel to investigate the effects of changing array configuration and wake interaction on the flow velocity and turbulence characteristics in small array layouts. Detailed account of the resulting flow field characteristics has been taken by particle image velocimetry measurements at a number of locations within the wake of the array thus providing a large set of instantaneous flow recordings for further analysis of flow features and wake characteristics.

Results are shown for experimental studies of single, three and four turbine arrays and some preliminary comparison between experimental measurements and numerical results are made.

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