Extreme wave conditions and the impact on wave energy converters

Sammanfattning: The amount of energy enclosed in ocean waves has been classified as one of the most promising renewable energy sources. Nowadays, different wave energy conversion (WEC) systems are being investigated, but only a few concepts have been operated in a sea environment. One of the largest challenges is to guarantee the offshore survivability of the devices in extreme wave conditions. However, there are large uncertainties related to the prediction of extreme wave loads on WECs.  Highfidelity computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations can resolve nonlinear hydrodynamic effects associated with wave-structure interaction (WSI).This thesis explores the point-absorbing WEC developed by Uppsala University in extreme wave conditions. The dynamic response and the forces on key components (mooring line, buoy, generator's end-stop spring) of the device are studied and compared. The high nonlinear phenomena accompany the steep and high waves, i.e., breaking behavior, slamming loads can be well-captured by the highfidelity CFD simulations. A commonly used methodology for extreme waves selection, recommended by technical specifications and guidelines, is the environmental contour approach. The 100-year contour in Hamboldt Bay site in California and the 50-year contour in the Dowsing site, outside the UK, are utilized to extract the extreme waves examined in the present thesis. Popular methodologies and data from different sources (observational and hindcast data) are examined for the environmental contour generation providing useful insights. Moreover, two popular approaches for the numerical representation of the extreme sea states, either as focused wave or as equivalent regular wave, were examined and compared. A midfidelity model of the WEC is successfully verified, as the utilization of lower fidelity tools in the design stage would reduce the computational cost. Last but not least, in CFD simulations the computational grid is sensitive in large motions, something often occurs during extreme-WSI. The solution of this issue for the open source CFD software OpenFOAM is provided here.