It is well known that the performance of point-absorber wave energy converters (WECs) depends upon resonance with the wave frequency. Indeed, the ideal performance of a resonating point-absorber WEC in a regular sea that can be represented by a simple sinusoid is well known, provided all motions are small and remain in the linear region. However, the performance of such a device in a more realistic, irregular sea that is not represented by a simple sinusoid cannot be so readily calculated. The first difficulty lies in modelling the hydrodynamic behaviour of the device. Recent developments in representing the hydrodynamic diffraction and radiation forces have enabled relatively simple simulation models to be developed, such as those presented and used in this paper. The second difficulty lies in the design of the device itself. In a regular sea with a known wave frequency, the settings of the power take-off system can be defined at well-known optimum values. It is shown in the present paper that, even when the wave frequency is not constant, the local wave frequency can be estimated, and this estimate can be used to adjust the power take-off system settings to maintain quasiresonance and, hence, approach the level of performance in a comparable regular sea. In this manner, for irregular seas it is possible to identify a dominant wave frequency over a relatively short time period and to use this frequency continuously to adjust the power take-off system settings, so as to adapt to the current sea conditions. This is likely, in some sea conditions, to involve the power take-off supplying power over part of the cycle, rather than absorbing it. This will increase the demands placed on the power take-off - particularly on its efficiency when the direction of power flow has to be reversible. The relative performance of such a tuneable point-absorber WEC is assessed in the paper. It is shown that the power converted in irregular seas could be as much as 50 per cent of the rated power, where the latter estimate is equivalent to the power converted in a corresponding regular sea.
One of four invited papers for a special issue on marine energy, this paper proposes a method for estimating the local dominant frequency of sea waves, which will allow adjustment of the settings of the power-take-off system of a point-absorber wave energy converter for optimum power capture. In a real sea, this continual adjustment from wave to wave is needed for good performance, and wave power will look unattractive without a means of doing this. This paper sets out a promising method of estimating the frequency, and hence of determining what adjustment is needed. RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : General Engineering