The goal of the project is to determine the need and potential of overall wave farm control with respect to design configuration. The project aims to both develop a numerical model for modelling an array of wave energy devices and algorithms dedicated to the control design of the whole system.
The wave energy group has been involved in wave energy for 6 years working both on the control and hydrodynamic side for individual wave energy devices. A previous project (IF/2002/309), successfully completed by the wave energy group at NUI Maynooth, developed a suite of control algorithms for a wave energy application producing potable water using a reverse-osmosis process resulting in a successful Irish patent application. A current project (EI/CTFD/IT/325-WAVELEC) concerns the development of a suite of control algorithms to optimize the performance of a typical wave energy converter for electricity production. During the course of the WAVELEC project, a mathematical model of an entire wave energy device including mechanical system dynamics, hydrodynamics and hydraulic power take-off mechanism has been developed. This led to a numerical model simulating the motion of a wave energy device in random seas and which was subsequently licensed to the wave energy company WAVEBOB Ltd.
The present project will use the knowledge gained from these different experiences and apply it to an array of devices. Arrays present a number of significant challenges which are not currently solved. For the hydrodynamic side, it will be important to understand how the different oscillators interact with each other and how their relative positions and distances affect the performance of the system. Indeed, the interaction of devices in an array is an important and difficult problem in hydrodynamics: it can lead to substantial increase or reduction in absorbed energy per device, depending on device geometry and control, and also on array geometry and its relation to incident wave length and direction.
For a control perspective, the approach used for single devices will be used with additional constraints such as interactions between neighbouring devices and practical issues related to the communication between the devices. It is anticipated that the developed algorithms and/or numerical model will be patented and licensed to interested wave energy device developers.