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Optimal tidal power generation

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  • Full or part time
    Prof O Jones
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

New developments in turbine design and construction methods for tidal barriers mean that tidal power generation is becoming more cost effective. Increasing the efficiency of tidal generation through optimal generation strategies will also help make the technology more cost effective. Cost effective tidal generation is important, because it has the potential to provide reliable base-load renewable energy.
Tidal power generation uses turbines to generate electricity from the movement of tides in and out of estuaries. Water is held behind a tidal barrier, then allowed to pass through via a turbine. The potential to generate electricity is determined by the difference in water height across the barrier. A consequence of this is that near the high/low tide mark, you can increase the total generated electricity by opening sluice gates to allow water up/down stream unimpeded.
To calculate the optimal generation strategy---that is when to open and close the sluice gates---you need to be able to calculate the level of water behind the tidal barrier based on how much water has passed through, and at what velocity. Unfortunately, although tides are very predictable, calculating the level of water behind a tidal barrier is a difficult problem, because at any given time the level of water is not constant throughout the estuary. Numerical schemes for calculating the water level beyond a tidal barrier are complicated and slow, but to numerically search for an optimal generation strategy we need to be able to do this calculation quickly. Quick approximations exist, but have errors of the order 10-15%.
The goal of this project is to develop a statistical model for the error between the slow but accurate numerical model for water height, and the fast but inaccurate model. The error model will improve the approximation, and thus enable improved generation strategies. The idea is to generate accurate estimates at a well-chosen set of parameter values, and then interpolate between them with a suitable model. Working out how to choose well is an interesting and topical experimental design problem, with applications well beyond tidal power generation. You can also make the choice of design points dynamic, allowing savings by sampling only where your error model is inaccurate.

Funding Notes

Full awards (UK/EU fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK Research Council eligibility conditions


Applicants should submit an application for postgraduate study via the Cardiff University Online Application Service for October 2019.

In the research proposal section of your application, please specify the project title and supervisors of this project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, please select "I will be applying for a scholarship / grant" and specify that you are applying for advertised funding from EPSRC DTP.

If are applying for more than one Cardiff University project please note this in the research proposal section.

How good is research at Cardiff University in Mathematical Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.05

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