GLOBAL - Edinburgh-Pacific Partnership of Excellence in New Energy Technologies

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Engineering


The UK, Japan and Taiwan are island nations whose economic growth has to be sustained into this millennium by ensuring sufficiency of secure and resilient low carbon supplies of electricity and human capacity to deliver the translation of their energy systems, in the face of increasing vulnerability to geopolitical, natural and economic phenomena. Their urban populations rely heavily on imported energy, yet have untapped renewable resources wave, tidal, offshore wind and solar resources often from diffuse sunlight. They are also industrialised nations with advanced research capabilities to address the scientific, engineering, economic, environmental and social challenges.

The project is founded on a best-with-best partnership between the University of Edinburgh and six universities in Japan and Taiwan. The project's vision is to use two-way secondments doing novel research to build a platform of shared success, upon which a broadening to other subject areas, and other partner institutions can be built. Thus the actual research areas above lie at the heart of this Partnership's work. Embracing these core activities are shared activities in post-graduate training; academic, government, industrial and public engagement.

The Partnership is focussed on some exciting areas ripe for research-led, rapid development in the field of new energy technologies. These span wave energy; tidal stream energy; offshore wind energy; solar cells, and underpinning energy materials. In each of these five thematic areas, Edinburgh experts will expand existing collaborations to deliver real research outcomes.

Theme 1, on coastal wave energy, sees Edinburgh wave energy expertise teamed with Japanese coastal engineering / breakwater expertise - a synergy which can deliver design uncertainty and project risk reduction, and consequent economic advantage.

Theme 2 will explore a novel tidal current measurement sensor for deployment offshore. One of the biggest single uncertainties in assessing (and costing) tidal stream energy is the machine's performance in real flows, as opposed to laboratory conditions. Field measurement is the key to progress here, and this device has the potential for major impact.

Theme 3 focuses on condition monitoring for offshore wind turbines. Moving from single machines in pilot schemes to large farms, issues of reliability become paramount to risk (and cost) reduction. This work can.

Theme 4 focuses on solar cell materials for devices that generate electricity from diffuse sunlight as is appropriate to UK, Japan and Taiwan settings. These "hybrid" cells are a promising technology to meet future energy needs.

Theme 5 will explore fundamental aspects of energy-related materials, using high pressures to generate new materials and explore their properties. A class of promising materials for white light LEDs, which are already widely used as efficient everyday light sources will be one of the main targets.

The Partnership's funded period is 12 months only, so there exists a serious challenge to make these activities sustainable. The strategic will be to use rapid research progress as a lever to deepen and extend these Partnerships, and to extend the network to engage further strategic partners. To these ends, near the end of the 12-month funded period, the Partnership will stage back-to-back Showcase events, in Taiwan and in Japan. These two-day events will see conventional dissemination activity complemented by open, ideas-generating research scoping workshop activities. The attendees should include not only academics with shared interests, but also other stakeholders in the new energy fields, very much including private and government sectors.

The project benefits from an agreement between the UK funders (EPSRC) and the Taiwan National Science Council (NSC) to enable matching Taiwanese support to be sought straightforwardly.

Planned Impact

This Partnership's ambition is to use the platform of these best-with-best thematic collaborations to gain leverage to generate much wider engagements and future partnerships in these and adjacent technical areas. Immediate beneficiaries are UK companies who currently work in the technical areas covered by the Themes.

In the technical area of Theme 1 focus - breakwater-integrated wave energy converters, the UK leads the world in experience of pilot plant. In Autumn 2011, the world's largest coastal wave energy station to date, installed integral to a new breakwater at Mutriku, Spain, was commissioned. The wave energy technology used is British (VH Wavegen, Inverness). Success in this Theme could see profile-raising of this UK private sector expertise outwith the UK and Europe, together with technical advances that make the technology more widely attractive.

The possible impact of success in Theme 2 (tidal stream field measurement technology) in Taiwan is difficult to gauge, as there is not yet a full appraisal of technically extractable resource there. But there is interest and funding at highest levels, so developments here, both technical and networking will have high-level visibility and support.

For Theme 3: In the UK, 30 GW of offshore wind infrastructure will be installed within the next 20 years. An independent study (Committee on Climate Change, 2011) "suggests that the offshore renewable energy industry in the UK, using less than a third of the total available resource, could generate electricity equivalent to 1 billion barrels of oil annually, matching North Sea oil and gas production, result[ing] in cumulative carbon dioxide savings of 1.1 billion tonnes by 2050". Reliability of the devices will be key to realisation of these environmental benefits and associated UK commercial successes. The work under Theme 3 will contribute to this end.

Theme 4 will consolidate an existing link (Nagoya) and kick-start an emerging link (NTHU) with leading international groups. The strong links enjoyed by Robertson with the UK excitonic solar cells community, both academic and industrial (via Supergen and Apex consortia; joint papers with Imperial, Cambridge, Bath, Heriot Watt in the last few years) will ensure new materials and new relationships developed in this theme are linked into collaborations and networking / conferences of the wider UK community.

The impact of new electronic materials discoveries (Theme 5) is initially in the scientific community, but then spreads into the commercial sector, e.g. new materials for cryogen-free, magnetocaloric cooling. New equipment developed for high pressure measurements may be commercialised - CSEC already sells a magnetisation cell designed and built in-house'.

Taiwan connections to NSC will be through Yu-Han Tsou, Director of the Science and Technology Division, at the UK Taipei Representative Office, and Stephen Chu, Director General of their Edinburgh Office. The Japan Science and technology Agency (JST) and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) are the main Japanese agencies but we will also work with Ed Thomson of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) at the British Embassy in Tokyo.

At the conclusion of the project, a "Showcase" will be held in Japan and Taiwan. The workshop will be used to communicate key project findings, identify in-country synergies and priority areas to concentrate on for future collaborative research and training endeavours. Japan and Taiwan visits will be to our named project Partners and also to other institutions with whom we hope to develop new partnerships.


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Dorrell D (2013) Damper Windings in Induction Machines for Reduction of Unbalanced Magnetic Pull and Bearing Wear in IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications

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Hu FC (2014) Geometrical isomerism of Ru(II) dye-sensitized solar cell sensitizers and effects on photophysical properties and device performances. in Chemphyschem : a European journal of chemical physics and physical chemistry

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Huang WY (2013) Nanosegregation and neighbor-cation control of photoluminescence in carbidonitridosilicate phosphors. in Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English)

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Pilia L (2014) Giant Magnetoresistance in a Molecular Thin Film as an Intrinsic Property in Advanced Functional Materials

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Saruwatari A (2013) Wave-current interaction effects on marine energy converters in Ocean Engineering

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Watanabe Y (2015) Transverse instabilities of ascending planar jets formed by wave impacts on vertical walls in Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences

Description Objective 1: "To deliver excellence from specific projects in five strategic themes of energy research, via bi- and tri-lateral projects designed with collaboration at their core."

Projects in the areas of "Tidal Energy Resource"; "Ocean Acoustic Tomography"; "Electrical Drive Chain Reliability for Tidal Energy"; "Electrochemical Processing for Solar Cells", and "New High Pressure Materials for Energy Technologies" have seen novel research being carried out, with new publications (with international UK-Taiwan-Japan authorships) in preparation. These will appear in the "outcomes" as they emerge from the review process.

There have been, to date, two new projects funded (totalling > GBP 1M ) whose teams include EPENET partners which have arisen at least in part to EPENET collaborative work.

Objective 2: "To strengthen links with six leading international institutions in Japan and Taiwan, and to foster new links with others."

In addition to the substantial strengthening of the existing international (Edinburgh-Taiwan-Japan) partnerships upon which this project was founded, we have succeeded in "expanding the group" substantially. This was achieved by careful, personal identification of new potential partners from elsewhere in the UK, Japan and Taiwan, as well as from the region (PR China). These newly invited experts joined the EPENET workshops in Hsinchu (Taiwan) and Kyoto (Japan), at which future research was brainstormed and scoped.

New UK contributors were invited from the Universities of Cambridge, Strathclyde, Loughborough, Heriot-Watt, Imperial College and Glasgow. The Taiwan "circle" was enlarged to include valuable contributions from National Taiwan Ocean University, National Sun Yat-Sen University and National Tai Tung University. Additional Japanese expertise was identified in colleagues from Hiroshima

Objective 3: "To promote collaboration, outputs and opportunities, primarily through Showcase events (in Taiwan and Japan) at which wider beneficiaries will be engaged."

The back-to-back, two-day "showcase and workshop" events were attended by over 100 in total, from nearly 20 institutions/oragnisations. The events had four half-day phases: (i) a showcase of EPENET research under the existing partnerships; (ii) a "show and tell" at which ALL attendees gave 5-minute introductions to their interests and expertise; (iii) a brainstorming "next challenges" session, and concluding with (iv) a presentation of summaries of scoped priority projects.

Objective 4: "To imbue early career researchers with international perspective and through exchanges and secondments, offer then direct exposure to, and experience of the benefits of collaboration."

All the early-career researchers who attended the "showcase and workshop" events experienced the excitement and dynamism of international research collaboration-scoping at first hand, and indeed, were forced to participate in the centre of activities!
Exploitation Route Theme 5: New High Pressure Materials for Energy Technologies. Industrial groups will be able to use the general principles we have found for tuning optical properties of phosphor materials and hence improving energy-efficiency of white-light emitting LED devices. Theme 1: Tidal Energy Resource. The research will inform Japanese regional governments and potential device developers on the potential for exploitation of tidal stream energy in the waters between mainland Japan and Hokkaido.

Theme 2: Ocean Acoustic Tomography. The pilot study of deployment of an ocean acoustic tomographic system is the first step towards detailed measurement of actual flows in energetic tidal currents, eg, around the Orkney Islands (off the north coast of Scotland). Information of flow structures such as vortices may be critical for the design of energy converters for efficiency and survivability.

Theme 5: New High Pressure Materials for Energy Technologies. The results concerning atomic structure of phosphor materials will help to optimise white-light LEDs and will form the basis for future collaborations between groups in Japan, Taiwan and ourselves.
Sectors Chemicals,Energy

Description The award focussed on using existing international research partnerships with top institutes in Taiwan and Japan to lever BOTH broader institute-to-institue collaborations AND to draw in new partners from UK, Taiwan and Japan to add value to existing Edinburgh collaborative activities. The impact of the award is therefore as much about the internationalisation of those involved, including a number of early-career researchers, as it is about technical impact. Dr Jonathan Shek was PDRA on the grant, now holds a prestigious "Chancellor's Fellowship" at the University of Edinburgh, and at his new academic level, is leading expansion his collaborations with Prof Hsieh at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), developed under this grant.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Energy
Impact Types Economic