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The University of Southampton

Wave and Tidal

Ocean energy offers the prospect of a high power density, renewable energy source. Within Engineering and the Environment we are studying both tidal and wave energy across resource assessment, hydrodynamic device design and large scale energy farm perspectives.

Large scale wind power is based on the now ubiquitous three bladed, horizontal axis turbine. Ocean energy device development has yet to converge in a similar manner to single designs for wave and tidal. This reflects the relatively early stage of the industry but also the step change in complexity that comes from working in a marine environment. Engineers are faced with the challenge of designing devices for survivability to unusual events such as storm surges or '100 year waves' whilst controlling costs to make projected large scale deployment economic.

Tidal energy is a highly site specific technology, of which the UK has a number of excellent sites, requiring understanding of the impact of complex bathymetry on potential device performance and array design. Wave power in contrast has the potential to be far more widely deployed across the globe and therefore, in terms of long term at a far greater scale. 

The University of Southampton has led fundamental work in both the wave and tidal fields, in aspects such as blade design, prototype device testing and development to resource assessment and modelling of marine energy farms.

The University has been involved with the  of a number of  marine and wave companies  including Pelamis Wave Power, Mygen, IT Power, Rolls-Royce, TGL, and Checkmate.


Wave energy
Royal Society special edition
International Journal of Marine Energy
  • 8m and 12.5m wave flumes with glass sides and floor, wavemakers with active absorption.
  • 21m and 14m tilting open channels, both with provision for studying sediment transport.
  • High speed velocity and turbulence measurement equipment for use in circulation water tanks.
  • Water wheel test tank.
  • Performance and power simulation facilities for Marine Current Energy Converters.
  • Computer based modelling system of tidal currents.
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