Bio-inspired high-efficient arrays of tidal energy converters

The UK tidal sector has recently achieved remarkable progress, including deploying the first two arrays of tidal turbines (Nova Innovation and MeyGen) and deploying the world’s largest twin-rotor floating tidal turbine (Scotrenewable). Horizontal-axis tidal turbines have developed more rapidly than other technologies because of their high individual hydrodynamic efficiency, and their (at first glance) similarity to submerged onshore wind turbines. This has also facilitated knowledge (limited) transfer from the wind and offshore energy sectors aiming ultimately to reduce risks and costs. Unlike the wave sector it seems that technology convergence is contributing to the acceleration of short-term development, but few new technologies have matured optimally without exploring disruptive concepts. The fundamental driver of this set of research questions is: how do we ensure that the UK converges towards the optimal technology for future very-large-scale arrays? In order to assure that we identify the optimal technology for the long-term UK tidal energy ambition, it is critical that we explore if there are alternative technologies that could enable a step change in the overall whole-systems efficiency of large arrays.

An innovative and disruptive concept to drastically reduce the array seabed use while increasing the efficiency might be inspired by fish shoals. Fish swim in compacted groups exploiting each-others’ wakes to maximise their efficiency and security. When two fish swim together, both the downstream and the upstream fish expend less energy than one in isolation. This project aims to translate the underlying mechanisms exploited by fish shoals to develop highly-compacted, high-efficiency tidal energy arrays.

The project will be led by Dr Ignazio Maria Viola in Edinburgh in collaboration with Dr Shaun Killen (Biology) and Dr Kiran Ramesh (Aeronautics) at the University of Glasgow.

Further Information: 

Closing Date: 

Friday, May 24, 2019
Array of bioSTREAM harvesters
Array of bioSTREAM harvesters

Principal Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - a First-class Honours degree (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Applications are welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere.

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: