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LHEEA and Ifremer partner up for a research project on tidal turbines

A joint LHEEA and IFREMER test programme was carried out to assess the influence of the proximity of a tidal turbine's mast on the forces applied to the rotor. These tests are seen as a bridge between many research and teaching activities.

on May 5, 2021

For this project, Grégory Payne, LHEEA research engineer, has been working in tandem with Gohar Shoukat, a student in the REM International Master programme at Centrale Nantes. IFREMER is also a partner since these tests took place in the Boulogne-sur-Mer wave and current tanks. This project is also part of the THeoREM research infrastructure, of which Centrale Nantes and IFREMER are members.

A look back at the challenges of this project and the tests conducted in April

The general principle of the experiment was to study the influence of a dummy mast on variations in the forces applied to the tidal turbine as well as on the performance of the machine in terms of flow. The results will be presented according to the proximity of this dummy mast to the rotor.

The LHEEA set up and funded the project in collaboration with IFREMER, which provided the calibrated model and the technical expertise for the tests, in which the LHEEA took part on site.

The tidal turbine model used was developed and calibrated by IFREMER. This model can be used to measure the forces at the end of each blade, as well as other forces such as the drag and the torque applied to the rotor.


The tests were carried out successfully and efficiently. The real-time data processing and visualisation software developed by Gohar Shoukat as part of the project meant that the live test programme could be adjusted and optimised in the light of initial measurements.

The data collected during these tests will provide better understanding of the stresses undergone by the different elements of the tidal turbines. These forces play a key role in the mechanical fatigue of tidal turbines. This new data should thus allow for a reduction in the safety factors deployed thus far in the design of tidal turbines, and ultimately lower manufacturing costs and therefore the cost of tidal energy. This project also represents an important step in developing collaboration between the IFREMER laboratory in Boulogne-sur-Mer and the LHEEA on the topic of tidal turbines. It is part of the development of research activities of the THeoREM infrastructure, established between Centrale Nantes, IFREMER and Gustave Eiffel University, to promote development of the marine renewable energy sector.

Finally, this project has also been an exceptional opportunity for tank experience for Gohar Shoukat, currently a student in the Master in Renewable Energy in the Marine Environment (REM+) at Centrale Nantes.

My past experiences were limited to numerical analysis or pure computational studies. The dynamics of an experimental investigation are different. It comes with its own set of challenges. This was my first hands-on full scale experimental investigation and I thoroughly enjoyed it. During the course of the experiments and its planning, I was able to learn new skills like signal processing, data handling and software development in addition to the core skills already learnt during my Masters. Support from Gregory and the overall Ifremer team has also been excellent and I continue to work in close coordination with everyone. Gohar Shoukat

Project team:

IFREMER (on the left): Thomas Bachetti, technician, Dr Grégory Germain, researcher and head of the test tank, Dr Benoît Gaurier, researcher (not in the photo) and Jean-Valéry Facq, engineer, at the Ifremer "Laboratoire Comportement des Structures en Mer" in Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Centrale Nantes (on the right): Dr Grégory Payne, research engineer at the LHEEA and Gohar Shoukat, REM Master student.
Published on May 5, 2021 Updated on May 20, 2021