Modelling Wave Power by Equivalent Circuit Theory

Abstract: The motion of ocean waves can be captured and converted into usable electricity. This indicates that wave power has the potential to supply electricity to grids like wind or solar power. A point absorbing wave energy converter (WEC) system has been developed for power production at Uppsala University. This system contains a semi-submerged buoy on the water surface driving a linear synchronous generator placed on the seabed. The concept is to connect many small units together, to form a wave farm for large-scale electricity generation.A lot of effort has gone into researching how to enhance the power absorption from each WEC unit. These improvements are normally done separately for the buoy, the generator or the electrical system, due to the fact that modelling the dynamic behavior of the entire WEC system is complicated and time consuming. Therefore, a quick, yet simple, assessment tool is needed. This thesis focuses on studying the use of the equivalent circuit as a WEC system modelling tool. Based on the force analysis, the physical elements in an actual WEC system can be converted into electrical components. The interactions between the regular waves, the buoy, and the Power Take-off mechanism can be simulated together in one circuit network. WEC performance indicators like the velocity, the force, and the power can be simulated directly from the circuit model. Furthermore, the annual absorbed electric energy can be estimated if the wave data statistics are known.The linear and non-linear equivalent circuit models developed in this thesis have been validated with full scale offshore experimental results. Comparisons indicate that the simplest linear circuit can predict the absorbed power reasonably well, while it is not so accurate in estimating the peak force in the connection line. The non-linear circuit model generates better estimations in both cases. To encourage researchers from different backgrounds to adapt and apply the circuit model, an instruction on how to establish a non-linear equivalent circuit model is supplied, as well as on how to apply the model to accelerate the decision making process when planning a WEC system.