Gulf Stream Power Characteristics near Cape Hatteras; Regional Model vs. Direct Current Observations

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 9:15 AM
Caroline Lowcher1, John Bane1, Yanlin Gong2, Ruoying He3 and Mike Muglia4, (1)University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States, (2)North Carolina University, Raleigh, NC, United States, (3)North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC, United States, (4)University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Insitute, Wanchese, NC, United States
The Gulf Stream has current velocities reaching approximately 2 meters per second, which distinguish it as a potential source of marine hydrokinetic (MHK) energy. The upper continental slope off Cape Hatteras is a desirable area for development of offshore renewable energy because of the closeness of the Gulf Stream to the shelf edge and its minimal meanderings there. Using data from a moored 150-kHz ADCP and from the Mid-Atlantic Bight and South Atlantic Bight (MABSAB) ocean circulation model, MHK power characteristics have been computed for this area. These calculations quantify the Gulf Stream power resource and its temporal and spatial variations. During August 2013 – April 2014 at the moored ADCP site 30 meters below the surface and within the Stream’s cyclonic shear zone, a comparison of the ADCP and MABSAB model reveals that the average current speeds from the two sources are nearly identical and have a magnitude of 1.15 m/s. A comparison for the same time period was made for Betz power, which yielded an observed average of 0.8 kW/m2 and a model average of 0.7 kW/m2, a difference of about 13%. The model has shown to be more conservative than the ADCP in its computation of current speed and Betz power, and it shows somewhat less variability than the ADCP in directionality of the Stream. Additionally, model data have been used to calculate annual average vector velocities and yearly Betz power averages for a number of years, and at various locations over the NC continental slope. These results depict the variation of the Stream's position along the NC coastline over the most recent years, and show that yearly averaged Betz power at a given location has significant inter-annual variations, with average power during one year being nearly four times greater than in another year.