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The University’s Dynamic Marine component test facility (DMaC).

Consortium awarded extra funding to create £9million offshore renewables hub

A national consortium, including the University of Exeter, has been awarded additional funding to cement the UK’s position as a global leader in offshore renewable energy (ORE) innovation and research.

The Supergen ORE hub was created in July 2018 to bring together a network of academic, industrial and policy stakeholders to champion and maintain the UK’s wave, tidal and offshore wind expertise.

It was initially awarded £5million by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and has now received an additional £4million in EPSRC funding to expand the support it offers researchers working across the country.

The Supergen ORE Hub, led by the University of Plymouth, features academics from Exeter, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Hull, Manchester, Oxford, Southampton, Strathclyde, and Warwick.

It is also working with an advisory board, made up of industry leaders, policy makers and other key stakeholders, to ensure it is addressing the key challenges faced by companies in the ORE sector.

Through that, it aims to build a collaborative approach that can address any technical, environmental and interdisciplinary challenges, which require a coordinated response at a national and regional level.

Professor Deborah Greaves OBE, Head of the School of Engineering and Computing, Electronics and Mathematics at the University of Plymouth and project lead said: “This additional investment is fantastic news and further recognition that offshore renewables have a vital role to play in the UK’s future energy generation.

“It will enable us to build on our existing ambitious programme of work, providing greater funds for early career and established researchers within the Supergen ORE hub. It also means we can offer more support to those from other institutions, strengthening the UK’s collective status as a world leader in this exciting and rapidly expanding field.”

As part of the Supergen ORE hub, the University of Exeter will lead work on enhanced coupled modelling for critical offshore energy components, such as dynamic power cables.

The objective is to capture and validate the complex behaviour of power cables w through high fidelity modelling and large-scale service-simulation testing, using the University’s Dynamic Marine component test facility (DMaC).

Dr Phlipp Thies, Co-Director of the Supergen ORE hub at the University of Exeter said: “This initiative is an important opportunity to develop the underpinning numerical and experimental work in order to improve the reliability of some of the most critical components, applicable throughout the offshore renewable energy sector. Our work seeks to directly inform and benefit industry efforts to reduce the cost of offshore renewables.”

The new investment will allow extra funding to be made available through the Hub’s Flexible Fund, providing grants of up the £100,000 to seed areas that complement existing research, fill gaps or add cross cutting activities to explore the transfer of research findings between sectors within ORE.

It will also enable an additional number of Post-Doctoral researchers to be employed across the 10 partner universities, expanding the Hub’s Early Career Researchers network.

More money will also be invested into the Hub’s Research Landscape, an interactive tool designed to create a comprehensive database of ORE research taking place in universities and other organisations across the UK.

Ross Wigg, Chair of the Supergen ORE Advisory Board and Renewables Director – Asset Performance at the LOC Group, said: “The renewables industry is now a significant player in the nation’s energy landscape. By working closely with scientists and policy makers, we can tap into their knowledge and expertise to benefit large and small companies working across the UK and beyond.

“The Supergen ORE hub is an excellent example of this collaborative approach in action, and I believe this additional funding can be used to help the whole sector achieve its full potential.”

Professor Lynn Gladden, Executive Chair of EPSRC, added: “Developing offshore renewable energy technologies is vital to the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy. Exploiting clean energy is a pressing need around the world, both in meeting rising demand and combating climate change.

“This additional funding for the Supergen ORE Hub will mean more institutions and researchers are able to apply themselves to producing solutions to the challenges we face in the energy sector.”

Date: 12 June 2019