Real-time Forecasting and Control for
Oscillating Wave Energy Devices.
PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
Ocean wave energy represents a signicant resource of renewable energy and can make an
important contribution to the development of a more sustainable solution in support of the contemporary
society, which is becoming more and more energy intensive. A perspective is given on
the benefits that wave energy can introduce, in terms of variability of the power supply, when
combined with oshore wind.
Despite its potential, however, the technology for the generation of electricity from ocean waves
is not mature yet. In order to raise the economic performance of Wave energy converters (WECs),
still far from being competitive, a large scope exists for the improvement of their capacity factor
through more intelligent control systems. Most control solutions proposed in the literature, for
the enhancement of the power absorption of WECs, are not implemented in practise because
they require future knowledge of the wave elevation or wave excitation force. The non-causality
of the unconstrained optimal conditions, termed complex-conjugate control, for the maximum
wave energy absorption of WECs consisting of oscillating systems, is analysed. A link between
fundamental properties of the radiation of the
floating body and the prediction horizon required
for an effective implementation of complex-conjugate control is identified.
An extensive investigation of the problem of wave elevation and wave excitation force forecasting
is then presented. The prediction is treated as a purely stochastic problem, where future
values of the wave elevation or wave excitation force are estimated from past measurements at the
device location only. The correlation of ocean waves, in fact, allows the achievement of accurate
predictions for 1 or 2 wave periods into the future, with linear Autoregressive (AR) models. A
relationship between predictability of the excitation force and excitation properties of the
body is also identified.
Finally, a controller for an oscillating wave energy device is developed. Based on the assumption
that the excitation force is a narrow-banded harmonic process, the controller is effectively tuned
through a single parameter of immediate physical meaning, for performance and motion constraint
handling. The non-causality is removed by the parametrisation, the only input of the controller
being an on-line estimate of the frequency and amplitude of the excitation force. Simulations in
(synthetic and real) irregular waves demonstrate that the solution allows the achievement of levels
of power capture that are very close to non-causal complex-conjugate control, in the unconstrained
case, and Model predictive control (MPC), in the constrained case. In addition, the hierarchical
structure of the proposed controller allows the treatment of the issue of robustness to model
uncertainties in quite a straightforward and effective way.
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