A Framework for Optimizing the Placement of Current Energy Converters
James, Scott C.
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This study investigates the potential environmental impacts and performance of a small array of tidal energy converters (TECs) in Cobscook Bay, ME; TECs are a subset of current energy converters (CECs) that are specifically deployed in tidal channels. A previously constructed coarse-grid, regional-scale hydrodynamic model of Cobscook Bay was coupled to a refined domain centered on a proposed TEC deployment location. All models were developed with Sandia National Laboratories-Environmental Fluid Dynamics Code (SNL-EFDC). An optimization framework was then constructed that used results from the refined model to determine optimal device placement locations that maximize array performance and minimize potential environmental effects. Within the framework, environmental constraints can be included to limit CEC-induced changes in flow, sediment transport, or other physical phenomena that might affect the health of aquatic species (i.e., altering fish-swimming behavior and sediment-transport trends that could affect benthic habitat or the stability of the CEC infrastructure). Simulation results were compared between model runs with optimized array configurations, and the originally proposed deployment locations. The optimized array had roughly a 17% increase in power generation. The framework developed also provides regulators and developers with a tool to assess environmental impacts and device-performance parameters for the deployment of CEC devices.