Characterization of Hydrodynamics Impacting Renewable Energy
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Renewable energy is the energy that is collected from renewable sources such as sunlight, wind, waves, geothermal, and biomass. Transitioning to renewable energy is becoming increasingly important as the projected depletion of fossil fuels based on current usage and the Paris Agreement, on which the U.S. as well as many nations around the world agreed to cut down on carbon emission as a collective effort to slow down global warming. Macroalgae, a novel source of biomass that grows in the ocean, requires sunlight and nutrients for photosynthesis. Acting as a potential source of nutrients, eddies are circular currents of water ubiquitous in the ocean and known to generate hydrodynamic forcing that potentially causes nutrient in cold water below to rise to the surface. Acting as another potential renewable energy source, ocean tidal currents can be converted to electricity or other useful forms of energy by current energy converter (CEC) devices, like hydrokinetic turbines. The characterization of inflow conditions, including the vertical distribution of the mean velocity is required for tidal current resource assessment, and the siting, design, and techno-economic performance evaluation of the CEC devices. The present study focuses on characterizing the two aspects of hydrodynamics that impacts the macroalgae production and hydrokinetic energy in tidal channels. First, different eddy detection and tracking algorithms are evaluated and the optimal algorithms are determined based on their performance measured using a set of metrics. Second, the algorithms are applied to 20 years of model simulation in the Gulf of Mexico to provide a comprehensive synthesis of eddy characteristics related to the eddy-induced nutrient enhancement near the surface. Lastly, tidal current profiles at 16 potential tidal energy sites in the U.S. Coast are characterized. Understanding the characteristics of the hydrodynamics impacting the renewable energy sources can help develop sustainable and diversified systems for energy extraction.