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Cycle 5 (2016 Deadline)

Potential of currents along the Tunisia coasts for renewable power generation

PI: Ali Harzallah (, National Institute of Marine Science and Technologies (INSTM)
U.S. Partner: Wassila Thiaw, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Project dates: December 2016 - November 2019

Project Overview:

The project will develop a high-resolution modeling system for marine waters along the Tunisia coasts (Central Mediterranean) using NOAA atmospheric and oceanic forcing fields. The modeling system will provide maps of the marine areas where ocean energy can be potentially used for power generation. The project will provide information on the circulation of water masses along and off the Tunisian coasts. In particular, information on circulation veins (the Atlantic vein, modulated by atmospheric conditions) will be provided for the first time at a high resolution. Additionally, water temperature and salinity maps will be developed, which are important for several of Tunisia’s economic sectors. The model results will be validated by direct observations in the sea using NOAA analytical tools. Once set up, the modeling system will constitute an important modeling platform for marine studies at INSTM.

Results from the project will provide information that may help in the creation of renewable energy alternatives by the Tunisia Electricity Company. Such information combined with that from tides and waves will be of interest for several economic applications, such as implementation of off-shore aquaculture cages, a rapidly increasing activity in Tunisia, and impact studies of coastal infrastructure implementation (e.g., the impact of highly concentrated salt brine from desalinization plants). The INSTM research team will gain knowledge on the use of high-resolution ocean models forced by atmospheric fields (weather and climate) and ocean models/outputs provided by NOAA. The project is a valuable opportunity for building the capacity at INSTM. PhDs, Master's students, and engineers at INSTM will be involved in the project and will ensure the sustainability of such a combined modeling-observation approach at the institution.

Summary of Recent Activities: 

As of June 2017, the team continued setting up of the high resolution model which will be used for the determination of marine areas where ocean currents can be used for energy generation. The engineer in charge of the high performance computing system was selected and started testing parallel modeling approaches. A Master of Science student has also started working on model set-up and has already constructed the model grid and the lateral and atmospheric boundary conditions. Initial conditions were also constructed. The ocean data provided by the NOAA/NCEP/EMC are currently downloaded and processed. At the time of reporting, the amount of data downloaded corresponds to 9 months, whereas 12 months are needed to begin simulating the year 2014. A second student also started working on modeling of the tidal component of the study. It was successfully tested on a coarser resolution model and will be installed on the high resolution one in a second step. The research team is in the process of procuring a computing server with two nodes and two accelerators which will be used to run the high resolution model.

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