An integrated model for estimating energy cost of a tidal current turbine farm
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A tidal current turbine is a device for harnessing energy from tidal currents and functions in a manner similar to a wind turbine. A tidal current turbine farm consists of a group of tidal current turbines distributed in a site where high-speed current is available. The accurate prediction of energy cost of a tidal current turbine farm is important to the justification of planning and constructing such a farm. However, the existing approaches used to predict energy cost of tidal current turbine farms oversimplify the hydrodynamic interactions between turbines in energy prediction and oversimplify the operation and maintenance strategies involved in cost estimation as well as related fees. In this paper, we develop a model, which integrates a marine hydrodynamic model with high accuracy for predicting energy output and a comprehensive cost-effective operation and maintenance model for estimating the cost that may be incurred in producing the energy, to predict energy cost from a tidal current turbine farm. This model is expected to be able to simulate more complicated cases and generate more accurate results than existing models. As there is no real tidal current turbine farm, we validate this model with offshore wind studies. Finally, case studies about Vancouver are conducted with a scenario-based analysis. We minimize the energy cost by minimizing the total cost and maximizing the total power output under constraints related to the local conditions (e.g., geological and labor information) and the turbine specifications. The results suggest that tidal current energy is about ready to penetrate the electricity market in some major cities in North America if learning curve for the operational and maintenance is minimum. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.