Analyzing the near-field effects and the power production of an array of heaving cylindrical WECS and OSWECs using a coupled hydrodynamic-PTO model

Philip Balitsky, Nicolas Quartier, Gael Verao Fernandez, Vasiliki Stratigaki, Peter Troch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The Power Take-Off (PTO) system is the key component of a Wave Energy Converter (WEC) that distinguishes it from a simple floating body because the uptake of the energy by the PTO system modifies the wave field surrounding the WEC. Consequently, the choice of a proper PTO model of a WEC is a key factor in the accuracy of a numerical model that serves to validate the economic impact of a wave energy project. Simultaneously, the given numerical model needs to simulate many WEC units operating in close proximity in a WEC farm, as such conglomerations are seen by the wave energy industry as the path to economic viability. A balance must therefore be struck between an accurate PTO model and the numerical cost of running it for various WEC farm configurations to test the viability of any given WEC farm project. Because hydrodynamic interaction between the WECs in a farm modifies the incoming wave field, both the power output of a WEC farm and the surface elevations in the ‘near field’ area will be affected. For certain types of WECs, namely heaving cylindrical WECs, the PTO system strongly modifies the motion of the WECs. Consequently, the choice of a PTO system affects both the power production and the surface elevations in the ‘near field’ of a WEC farm. In this paper, we investigate the effect of a PTO system for a small wave farm that we term ‘WEC array’ of 5 WECs of two types: a heaving cylindrical WEC and an Oscillating Surge Wave Energy Converter (OSWEC). These WECs are positioned in a staggered array configuration designed to extract the maximum power from the incident waves. The PTO system is modelled in WEC-Sim, a purpose-built WEC dynamics simulator. The PTO system is coupled to the open-source wave structure interaction solver NEMOH to calculate the average wave field η in the ‘near-field’. Using a WEC-specific novel PTO system model, the effect of a hydraulic PTO system on the WEC array power production and the near-field is compared to that of a linear PTO system. Results are given for a series of regular wave conditions for a single WEC and subsequently extended to a 5-WEC array. We demonstrate the quantitative and qualitative differences in the power and the ‘near-field’ effects between a 5-heaving cylindrical WEC array and a 5-OSWEC array. Furthermore, we show that modeling a hydraulic PTO system as a linear PTO system in the case of a heaving cylindrical WEC leads to considerable inaccuracies in the calculation of average absorbed power, but not in the near-field surface elevations. Yet, in the case of an OSWEC, a hydraulic PTO system cannot be reduced to a linear PTO coefficient without introducing substantial inaccuracies into both the array power output and the near-field effects. We discuss the implications of our results compared to previous research on WEC arrays which used simplified linear coefficients as a proxy for PTO systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3489
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Control and Optimization
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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