Tidal turbine blades are subjected to significant thrust and torsional loadings due to the high density of the seawater in which they operate. These thrust loadings lead to high bending moments at the blade root, which can prove to be a serious design constraint for these devices and can have implications with respect to cost-effectiveness and scalability. This work presents a combined hydrodynamic-structural design methodology for a commercial scale (1.5 MW) tidal turbine. A hydrodynamic analysis of the blade is carried out to determine force distributions along the blade span under normal and extreme operating conditions. Using output from the hydrodynamic model, a pre-processor for computing blade structural properties is used to determine the strain distribution along the blade spar caps. The strain distributions from this analysis are then compared with a finite element model of the blade which is then used to compare the structural performance of glass fibre reinforced polymer (GFRP) and carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) as spar cap materials. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.