The SNMREC Preferred Partner Program is an opportunity for our industry partners to collaborate more fully with the Center. This program is designed to dedicate SNMREC experts and resources to individual industry partner development needs.
Perhaps nowhere is the notion of interactions embodied more than in the case of open-ocean current generating systems and the physical environment, especially when commercial-scale deployments are considered.
It seems obvious that removing a significant fraction of the Florida Current’s kinetic energy to generate electricity will have some effect on the flow. While it can be argued that the large-scale processes responsible for the Florida Current will not be changed, and therefore that the total amount of water transported northward through the Florida Straits will not change, the same cannot be said for the details of the flow and its variations.
Conversely, very small-scale alterations of the details of the flow (that is, an individual turbine system’s wake) will be an important consideration for the design of arrays of systems and even for the design of individual components such as rotors.
Given the prohibitive cost of true experiments, the only approach to these problems lies in computer simulation. To this end SNMREC and the Center for Ocean-Atmosphere Prediction Studies (COAPS) at the Florida State University have teamed up to use state-of-the-art ocean circulation models to investigate these interactions. In the process, useful and interesting relationships between the power available in the Florida Current and the total mass transport through the Florida Straits are being discovered, information that will assist developers’ strategies for the future.