The effect of bed roughness uncertainty on tidal stream power estimates for the Pentland Firth

M. J. Kreitmair*, T. A.A. Adcock, A. G.L. Borthwick, S. Draper, T. S. van den Bremer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Uncertainty affects estimates of the power potential of tidal currents, resulting in large ranges in values reported for sites such as the Pentland Firth, UK. Kreitmair et al. (2019, R. Soc. open sci. 6, 180941. (doi:10.1098/rsos.191127)) have examined the effect of uncertainty in bottom friction on tidal power estimates by considering idealized theoretical models. The present paper considers the role of bottom friction uncertainty in a realistic numerical model of the Pentland Firth spanned by different fence configurations. We find that uncertainty in removable power estimates resulting from bed roughness uncertainty depends on the case considered, with relative uncertainty between 2% (for a fully spanned channel with small values of mean roughness and input uncertainty) and 44% (for an asymmetrically confined channel with high values of bed roughness and input uncertainty). Relative uncertainty in power estimates is generally smaller than (input) relative uncertainty in bottom friction by a factor of between 0.2 and 0.7, except for low turbine deployments and very high mean values of friction. This paper makes a start at quantifying uncertainty in tidal stream power estimates, and motivates further work for proper characterization of the resource, accounting for uncertainty inherent in resource modelling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number191127
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Bed roughness
  • Bottom friction
  • Renewable energy
  • Resource assessment
  • Tidal power
  • Uncertainty


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