Modelling, Optimisation and Design of Conversion for Offshore Renewable Energy (UK-China MOD-CORE)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Electronic and Electrical Engineering


Both the UK and China face great demands for offshore renewable energy (ORE) yet high risks have impeded faster development. While the cost of generated energy has just been reduced to £100/MWhr for offshore wind in the UK (4 years ahead of government schedule) deployment further offshore will increase both the capital and operational & maintenance (O&M) costs. in China, onshore wind power is severely curtailed due to crowded transmission corridors. Exploitation of offshore wind would better match the population distribution in China, and so hence there is a strong motivation to exploit this ORE. In order accelerate this development, new technologies are desperately needed to improve the performance in terms of cost, efficiency and reliability (availability). In addition to offshore wind, other forms of marine renewable energy will also play indispensable roles in the future renewable energy mix. Because these technologies are less mature, this development involves even higher risks. As yet none of the wave energy generation companies have shown to be commercially viable without economic support mechanisms.

Recognising the high risks involved and the development work that is urgently needed in the industry, this project aims to carry out fundamental modelling and validating work that will lead to the capability of virtual prototyping. Such a capability will significantly accelerate and de-risk the development work in industry. Complementary expertise in the two countries are combined to address the requirements of overall system performance from ORE devices (wind and wave) to grid, and focuses on the critical technical aspects that will dictate the design decisions. This will be achieved through multiple scale (dimensional and time-wise) and multiple resolution modelling, taking into account the specifications and utilisation of materials and components in the designed systems subject to optimal control. The modelling will cover the manufacturability of the designs and will consider environmental constraints including impact on sea life in different locations. These will be important as ORE development is scaled up in the future. The outcome of research will be demonstrated through a series of case studies including both systems for large wind farms and wave arrays, and also small scale devices supplying energy to off-grid islands.

The project members have long track records in modelling and design of components in wind and marine renewable systems. The project allows the researchers to interact and carry out studies cutting across the borders of different engineering disciplines, enabling hi-fidelity modelling and virtual prototyping.

Planned Impact

The UK is the global leader in the development of offshore renewable energy. Due to the abundant natural resource off the coasts of the UK, a significant proportion of the electricity demand can potentially be supplied by clean, renewable power generated offshore. Together with other renewable energy technologies, offshore renewable energy can make a significant contribution towards meeting UK emissions and renewable power generation targets, and limit the rise in global temperatures. The industry currently supports tens of thousands of jobs, which can only be sustained if the UK maintains its lead and manages to gain a significant share of the world market for offshore renewable energy, where offshore wind alone is estimated at Euro130bn by 2020. China has the world's largest installed capacity for wind energy and is rapidly developing its wave energy technologies. Strong growth in both offshore wind and wave are needed to displace fossil fuel generation in order for China to achieve a sustainable economy.

For this to happen, greater investor confidence and commercial debt are needed. This is possible if a significant reduction in costs at all levels are achieved, thereby reducing the cost of energy to a point where it competes with fossil-fuel generation. The main aim of MOD-CORE addresses this through modelling, optimisation and design for energy conversion process. The overall efficiency is increased, energy capture is maximised, and component failure and adverse environmental effects are reduced; these all lead to reducing the levelised cost of energy (LCoE), increases in investor confidence, which leads to an increase in investment in the offshore renewable energy sector. The UK has made significant progress in reducing LCoE from offshore wind and current value is £100/MWhr. But the energy generated from offshore wind in China is only beginning to happen and currently costs £500-600/MWhr. Improvement in technologies, installation and operation can clearly be made.

Whilst there are clear benefits of developing large scale devices, there is an increasing number of community-owned renewable power projects that aim to provide social and economic benefits to the local community both in the UK and in China. However, to obtain a positive social impact, small device developers need access to state-of-the-art modelling tools to optimise their designs for reliability and availability of supply, which is essential for community groups located on islands or remote areas. MOD-CORE addresses this by developing an open source modelling tool; as a result, smaller, local device developers can compete more easily and help to bring benefits to the local community.


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Description Development of a phase-changing materials power converter module for wind turbines that can withstand short-circuit faults.
Development of optimisation methods for minimising damage to wave energy power take-off systems.
Exploitation Route Pathways for Impact include power electronic device and system manufacturers (phase-changing materials) and wave energy device designers (damage minimisation algorithm).
Sectors Energy

Description Investigation on Joint Modelling and Fatigue Stress Coordination Control of Power Take-Off for Offshore Wind Turbo Generation System
Amount £4,960 (GBP)
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2019 
End 03/2021