Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Fernandez, Arturo

Abstract

Ocean currents have the potential to supply electricity from a renewable source to coastal regions. The Gulf Stream, part of the North Atlantic Gyre, flows parallel to the Southeastern coast of the United States and could potentially supply a significant electricity to this region. The assessment of the potential energy that could be generated is the first step towards developing this resource. Data from the HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM) and high-frequency radar measurements have been used to assess an area extending from 34.85° N to 35.15° N, and from 74.85° W to 74.5° W near the North Carolina shore. The assessment shows the area to be a promising resource of renewable energy as over 50% of the days exhibit a power density of 500 W/m2 or higher. The results also show the direction of the ocean velocity to be relatively uniform in the Northeast direction, which would facilitate a future exploitation of the resource. Statistical analysis applying Probability Density Functions (PDF) such as Weibull, Rayleigh, and Gaussian distribution is introduced in the field of ocean current energy. The results show that the use of a Weibull probability distribution facilitates the analysis of ocean velocity conditions. Weibull distribution is also able to predict the power density with a high degree of accuracy. The analysis was also expanded to other gyres with similar results, where the Weibull distribution is the better predictor for power density.

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