A Geo-Spatial Site characterization Framework for Determining Optimal Offshore Locations of Hydrokineti Tidal Energy Devices in the Pentland Firth

Eric P.M. Grist and Jason D. Mc Ilvenny
Environmental Research Institute (ERI) North Highland College, UHI Millennium Institute Thurso, Caithness, UK
{Eric.Grist, Jason.Mcilveny}@thurso.uhi.ac.uk

Abstract: Hydrokinetic marine renewable energy devices are forecast to play a major role in contributing to the UK renewable power generation capacity. In the north of Scotland, the Pentland Firth (located between the north coast of mainland Scotland (UK) and the Orkney Islands) is considered to be a prime marine region for the deployment of hydrokinetic tidal energy devices (Mackay, 2008). One of the key unresolved development issues is how to identify locations and configurations that are most suitable for hydrokinetic device deployment under the various physical, ecological and economic constraints existing within a particular domain. In this paper, we develop a site characterization modelling approach that determines optimal locations within a geographic information systems (GIS) framework. A central feature is the spatial incorporation of available tidal energy power density (henceforth referred to as 'tidal power density') estimated through raster coverage weighted by dominant cost drivers associated with installation of offshore renewable energy devices. The latter include geo-spatial factors such as offshore site distance, seabed depth and cable connection distance to the electricity grid. Operational restrictions and uncertainties imposed in time and space by tidal ranges and fluctuations on specific hydrokinetic devices are also examined. The framework provides a generic management decision tool to assist with evaluating uncertainties and concerns connected with marine renewable energy development.

Keywords: seabed depth; coastal distance; installation; cost drivers; raster coverage; tidal power density

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