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Assessment of Tidal Currents along the Atlantic Coast of the Southeast USA for Energy Conversion: Case Study for Georgia

Date: November 01, 2013 at 10:54 GMT

In this study an advanced method for assessing the tidal power potential with a three dimensional numerical model is developed and applied along the coast of the state of Georgia. This region has the largest tidal range for the southeast United States, with low to moderate average tidal currents along most of the coast, but with the possibility of very strong local currents within its complex network of tidal rivers and inlets between barrier islands. The preliminary investigation utilizes the tidal current predictions from 133 stations along the 160 km of coast. Tidal current predictions from these stations provide spatially scattered information about the tidal currents, whereas funneling effects due to the bathymetry may enhance the current speeds locally. In order to resolve the changes in magnitude and the flow pattern of the tidal flows the currents are modeled with the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS). Digital sounding
data from the National Ocean Service (NOS) Hydrographic Data Base is used for the bathymetry information. The tidal forcing for the model is acquired from the tidal elevations and constituents information from the ADCIRC tidal database. The model results are incorporated into a Geographical Information System (GIS) database to document local regions which might be used for energy conversion and distributed energy production in the future. Data from the tidal current stations and the modeling efforts show that there are locations with as much as five times larger tidal currents than the average for the region.
The model simulations with ROMS resolve the spatial variability of the tidal currents better than the limited number of tidal stations, thereby providing a more comprehensive picture of locations with significant tidal stream energy potential. 

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