Measurements of tidal flow variability in Ramsey Sound, Pembrokeshire


  • Jon Miles University of Plymouth
  • Daniel Coles
  • David Simmonds
  • Alex Paine
  • Sue Barr



In-stream tidal energy, Tidal energy resource, Tidal energy operations and maintenance planning


The nature of the flow at in-stream tidal energy sites is particularly important for predicting array and device performance, and also for operations and maintenance planning.  Previous developers have reported issues such as the choice of vessel, cost of operations, and the limits of operation of deployment vessels. The dynamics of the flow around slack water has been of particular interest at Ramsey Sound in Pembrokeshire (UK) for planning the recovery of an existing turbine, the Tidal Energy Limited ‘Deltastream’.

This research presents flow characteristics of Ramsey Sound, based on analysis of Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) measurements and tide gauge data from the nearby Standard Port of Milford Haven.  The ADCP was located approximately 300 m across the channel, at the northern end of the channel, where the channel width was 1200 m and the mean depth was approximately 33 m. The flow dynamics were examined specifically to look at times potentially suitable for offshore operations Two weeks of data were used in the analysis, spanning a complete spring-neap cycle.

Results demonstrate that flow velocities exhibited clear asymmetry, with stronger flows on the northerly directed flood tide than on the ebb. There was considerable variation in the measured current speed around the time of the maximum, suggesting large scale bed feature generated turbulence. The flood (northerly) current maximum was approximately in phase with high water at Milford Haven. Cross correlation indicated that the flow generally led the elevation by 20 minutes.  In contrast to the expected theory, the current strength at mid-depth was stronger than at the surface on the maximum flood tide.  The maximum flow speed in the tide was reasonably predictable from the tide range at Milford. A threshold-based analysis of the ADCP measurements allowed the duration of slow-moving water to be identified for operation planning.

Operations and planning in light of sound understanding of hydrodynamics at tidal energy sites is critical for future economic success of the tidal energy sector. The results shown here from an ADCP deployment in Ramsey Sound have shown the capability to give useful tools for planning recovery operations.



How to Cite

J. Miles, D. Coles, D. Simmonds, A. Paine, and S. Barr, “Measurements of tidal flow variability in Ramsey Sound, Pembrokeshire”, Proc. EWTEC, vol. 15, Sep. 2023.