Assessing hydrokinetic tidal energy extraction for Rose Dhu Island, Georgia: A case study for tidal rivers with marsh environs
Bruder, Brittany Lynn
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Hydrokinetic tidal power is a novel and emergent technology undergoing continuous advancement with much of the progress focused on large utility scale projects. This resource is potentially underutilized because much of the coastal United States, despite having substantial tidal currents, do not have the deep and wide environments required by most of the developing turbine technology. This dissertation includes a detailed characterization of the tidal hydrodynamics for Rose Dhu Island, Georgia used for a tidal energy resource assessment as well as a general feasibility study for tidal estuaries with extensive wetlands. For predictions and evaluation of the estuarine hydrodynamics, data from an existing numerical model of the estuary encompassing the island is utilized. Field measurements in close proximity to the island are used to calibrate the model as well as characterize local hydrodynamic features. After the model calibration, the simulation data is used to evaluate the hydrodynamics. Wetland dominated estuaries commonly have a high degree of non-linear distortion which govern the relative durations and strengths of the tidal stages and thus the overall hydrodynamics and incoming hydrokinetic energy. The Ogeechee Estuary is characterized as ebb dominant with peak ebb and flood volume fluxes near high tide as a result of the increased storage capacity of the wetlands. Lowering the average wetland elevation in the model decreased ebb dominance and quickened the transition from flood to ebb tide. Increased domain friction in the model removed energy from the system and reduced ebb dominance. Enhanced model marsh friction reduced lateral flooding of the wetlands as well as ebb dominance. Localized measurements surrounding the island are analyzed to determine a location near the southwest coast of the island as a hydrokinetic energy hotspot. A kinematic and dynamic analysis is performed using channel transect measurements to identify key physical processes behind the hotspot formation. The hotspot forms due to sub-critical flow acceleration over a singular bump in the topography. High streamwise momentum is further concentrated at the hotspot due to secondary circulation cells across the channel. Flood tide circulation is characterized by two co-rotating cells induced by channel curvature and delineated by the bump. Ebb circulation consists of two counter-rotating cells from flow confluence of two upstream channels. Once the hydrodynamics are understood, the theoretical and technical resource assessment of the island is completed. A sensitivity analysis of hydrokinetic energy and tidal distortion is performed on synthetic data. For a principle constituent and its first harmonic, distortion greatly changes as does the distribution of velocities and energy as the relative phase varies. While the theoretical energy remains consistent, the technical energy can greatly vary. This effect is reduced with the addition semi-lunar variation. Using a simplified analytical method, the maximum average channel power is estimated as 8.80 MW. For the hotspot it is estimated that there is 30.3 MWh available to capture yearly with an average power of 3.46 kW for a turbine with an area of 10 square meters. For the same turbine area with conservative efficiencies, the hotspot could provide a yearly technical energy of 10.9 MWh with an average power of 1.25kW for the island. Due to the complex localized hydrodynamics, both the theoretical and technical resource varies greatly across and along the channel. These considerations are more pertinent when performing a hydrokinetic energy resource assessment in a marsh estuary than for large scale bay-ocean exchange environments, the present industry focus.
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