Tidal Turbine Testing

Phase 1
2013 - 2014


Prof. Trevor Whittaker
Dr Bjoern Elsaesser
Dr Penny Jeffcoate







The TTT project was the first official tidal turbine testing project run at QUB.

The project aims were to:

  •    Develop a testing procedure for medium-scale turbine devices
  •    Determine whether performance of a turbine can be increased if placed in an array
  •    Determine the optimum position for turbines in arrays
  •    Quantify whether tests in steady flow are representative of tidal tests
  •    Provide accurate data for validation of numerical models

Experiments were conducted in both our lake and lough test sites using a floating test platform and two mono-strut horizontal axis turbines. The test platform consists of a catamaran with a working section between the two hulls of 5m width by 9m length. This platform can either be pushed by a motor when in the lake facility or can be moored in the tidal site. Experiments were conducted to quantify the extent of the interaction of two tidal devices; these were 1/10th scale, four-bladed, mono-strut, horizontal-axis devices with a rotor diameter of 1.5m. 


Jeffcoate, P., Whittaker, T., Boake, C. and Elsaesser, B. (2015). Field tests of multiple 1/10 scale tidal turbines in steady flows.

Phase 2


Prof. Trevor Whittaker
Dr Bjoern Elsaesser
Dr Penny Jeffcoate




During the successful measurement campaign conducted under INI TTT several characteristics were identified in the tidal tests due to the fluctuations in the inflow velocity.  The varying inflow velocity and resulting changes in the turbine performance led to issues in the correlation between the data sets and the quantification of turbine performance. From this, three key research questions arose:

1.What is the best method to compare rotor performance in steady and tidal flows without the use of an inflow velocity value?
2.What velocity post-processing leads to accurate turbine performance evaluation?
3.Is this affected by scale or turbine design?


The TTT2 project was conducted with generous funding from Invest Northern Ireland, through the CASE competence centre. The project partners are Applied Renewables Research, SCHOTTEL, McLaughlin and Harvey, Joules Energy and Oceanflow Energy.



Jeffcoate, P, Whittaker, T, Boake, C & Elsaesser, B 2016, 'Field test of multiple 1/10 scale tidal turbines in steady flowsRenewable Energy, vol 87, no. 1, pp. 240-252. DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2015.10.004

Phase 3
October 2015 – October 2017


Prof. Trevor Whittaker
Dr. Carwyn Frost
Mr. Ian Benson




With the support of Invest NI and CASE competence centre, the Tidal Turbine Testing (TTT) project enters its third phase. The project builds upon the experience and results from deployment of two 1.5 m diameter horizontal axis tidal turbines. The TTT3 project, aims to characterise the performance of tidal turbines in response to inflows using both real tidal flow test and idealised tow tank test, building upon the experience and conclusions of previous work.

This work investigates the performance of an industrially relevant rotor in both the real tidal conditions and idealised tow tank experiments. Tow tank tests have an idealised flow, with controlled inflow conditions, no turbulence and no wave climate. Tidal tests provide stochastic inflow conditions, with turbulent flow structures and varying magnitudes and directions of velocity passing through the rotor. The performance characteristics will be identified using instrumentation as close to the rotor as feasible, these studies are key to industry and academia alike in validating numerical models and informing the marine energy sector.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/XXw7Rjzm0mA