SCORE – Sustainability of using Ria Formosa Currents On Renewable Energy production (PTDC/AAG-TEC/1710/2014)
FCT contribution: € 200k
Partners: 4
Schedule starting date: 1 April 2016
Duration: 36 months
Project website:

SCORE proposes to test for the first time a floatable tidal energy converter (TEC) on Portuguese waters, the Evopod 1:10th scale prototype from OceanFlow Energy (OE). Evopod device is at the technology readiness level (TRL) 7 and a 1:4th scale prototype is presently being tested on Scottish waters on combined ocean-current environment, the requisite required for reaching TRL 8 (i.e. pre-commercial stage).

The innovative aspect of TEC testing in Portugal lies with the unique morphological characteristics associated with the device deployment site at Ria Formosa, a coastal lagoon protected by a multi-inlet barrier system located in southern Portugal (Algarve Region). Ria Formosa can be used as representative of the vast majority of shallow coastal areas where TECs can be used in the future. It is therefore ideal to analyse both the energy extraction efficiency and eventual impacts that extracting energy from the flowing currents will have on the ecological communities and physical settings.

Almost no information exists on how cumulative effects of multiple devices will impact the near and far-field flow and sediment transport patterns from array deployments. The main expected outcome of the proposed research is to construct an operational envelope which can be used by technology developers on design concepts of efficient TECs based on environmental and sustainability principles, contributing to the growth of the blue economy.

The measured energy extraction efficiency of the operational prototype will be compared against numerical models in order to validate these tools. Model simulations using different hydrodynamic settings and number of units can then be performed to (1) evaluate the impacts that energy extraction will have on the temporal and spatial changes of the flow, on sediment transport patterns and, ultimately, on the habitat; (2) develop cost benefit analysis balancing supply and demand using tidal energy.

The expected results are:

(1) Development of a state of the art baseline marine geophysical, hydrodynamic and ecological study for the test site;

(2) Validation of a hydro-morphodynamic model including operational TEC devices, which will be available to the international scientific and technical community for performing further studies on tidal energy;

(3) Estimation of tidal energy resource over the spring-neap tidal cycles for the selected site and definition of the best possible locations for the TEC device, which can serve as guideline for future tidal energy analysis on similar systems worldwide;

(4) General description of power generation capacity, energy capture area and proportion of energy flux for the site, taking into consideration both the tidal resource and the environment;

(5) Development of a methodology to define the optimal distance between array devices for large scale implementation, optimizing extraction and minimizing impacts from operation;

(6) Creation of 2D maps and graphical curves illustrating the impacts on flow properties and sediment transport from energy extraction;

(7) Draw guidelines to optimise tidal energy extraction including: (i) scenario analysis based on energy extraction schemes; (ii) cost-benefit evaluation of the power plant implementation, operation and maintenance; (iii) individualisation of the environmental impacts at each stage of development and propose mitigation actions, enhancing high levels of protection of the environment and adapted to real socio-economic regional scenarios;

(8) Establish Algarve Region, in particular Ria Formosa and adjacent waters, as a potential site to test TEC devices.

The project coordinator is CIMA-University of Algarve (UALG) and the participant researchers are from CIMA-UALG, Centro de Ciências do Mar (CCMAR) and Centro de Investigação de Espaços e Organizações (CIEO-UALG), with different areas of expertise (i.e., marine engineering, biology, geology, physical oceanography and environmental economy). The chosen multidisciplinary and knowledge driven strategy will greatly contribute to the project success by promoting an effective cooperation to reach the proposed outcomes. The CIMA researchers involved in SCORE are André Pacheco (Principal Investigator), Óscar Ferreira, Theocharis Plomaritis and Erwan Garel.