A simplified method to estimate tidal current effects on the ocean wave power resource


We presented a method to estimate the effect of tidal currents on wave power.

The method is analytical, simple, and highly efficient.

The method showed convincing performance in the Pentland Firth, Scotland.


Although ocean wave power can be significantly modified by tidal currents, resource assessments at wave energy sites generally ignore this effect, mainly due to the difficulties and high computational cost of developing coupled wave-tide models. Furthermore, validating the prediction of wave-current interaction effects in a coupled model is a challenging task, due to the paucity of observational data. Here, as an alternative to fully coupled numerical models, we present a simplified analytical method, based on linear wave theory, to estimate the influence of tidal currents on the wave power resource. The method estimates the resulting increase (or decrease) in wave height and wavelength for opposing (or following) currents, as well as quantifying the change in wave power. The method is validated by applying it to two energetic locations around the UK shelf – Pentland Firth and Bristol Channel – where wave/current interactions are significant, and for which field data are available. Results demonstrate a good accuracy of the simplified analytical approach, which can thus be used as an efficient tool for making rapid estimates of tidal effects on the wave power resource. Additionally, the method can be used to help better interpret numerical model results, as well as observational data.


  • Wave-current interactions;
  • Resource assessment;
  • Wave power;
  • Pentland Firth;
  • Bristol Channel

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