EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Wind and Marine Energy Systems and Structures

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

Abstract

This proposal is for a new EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Wind and Marine Energy Systems and Structures (CDT-WAMSS) which joins together two successful EPSRC CDTs, their industrial partners and strong track records of training more than 130 researchers to date in offshore renewable energy (ORE). The new CDT will create a comprehensive, world-leading centre covering all aspects of wind and marine renewable energy, both above and below the water. It will produce highly skilled industry-ready engineers with multidisciplinary expertise, deep specialist knowledge and a broad understanding of pertinent whole-energy systems. Our graduates will be future leaders in industry and academia world-wide, driving development of the ORE sector, helping to deliver the Government's carbon reduction targets for 2050 and ensuring that the UK remains at the forefront of this vitally important sector.

In order to prepare students for the sector in which they will work, CDT-WAMSS will look to the future and focus on areas that will be relevant from 2023 onwards, which are not necessarily the issues of the past and present. For this reason, the scope of CDT-WAMSS will, in addition to in-stilling a solid understanding of wind and marine energy technologies and engineering, have a particular emphasis on: safety and safe systems, emerging advanced power and control technologies, floating substructures, novel foundation and anchoring systems, materials and structural integrity, remote monitoring and inspection including autonomous intervention, all within a cost competitive and environmentally sensitive context.

The proposed new EPSRC CDT in Wind and Marine Energy Systems and Structures will provide an unrivalled Offshore Renewable Energy training environment supporting 70 students over five cohorts on a four-year doctorate, with a critical mass of over 100 academic supervisors of internationally recognised research excellence in ORE. The distinct and flexible cohort approach to training, with professional engineering peer-to-peer learning both within and across cohorts, will provide students with opportunities to benefit from such support throughout their doctorate, not just in the first year. An exceptionally strong industrial participation through funding a large number of studentships and provision of advice and contributions to the training programme will ensure that the training and research is relevant and will have a direct impact on the delivery of the UK's carbon reduction targets, allowing the country to retain its world-leading position in this enormously exciting and important sector.

Planned Impact

This outward-facing doctoral training centre will create impact through knowledge enhancement and leadership development which will have significant benefit for society, people and the economy.

Societal Impacts:
A very large increase in renewable energy generation, mainly wind, wave and tidal, is expected in the coming years and decades to meet the UK Government and international obligations to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050 when compared to 1990 levels. In particular, the Offshore Wind Industry Council is proposing, under a Sector Deal, to deliver 30GW of offshore wind by 2030 and 50GW by 2050, whilst reducing the average price of electricity by 18%. The longer term societal and economic impacts arise from the difference that the CDT programme and its graduates make to the UK realising this medium-term and longer-term target. The societal impact of meeting these targets, over failing to meet them, can be calculated in avoided CO2, increased sustainability, security and resilience of the energy system in a safe, affordable and environmentally sensitive manner.

People Pipeline and Skills:
There is a widely recognised skills gap in renewable energy both in UK and Europe. Hence, the proposed CDT is timely contributing significantly to meeting the sector's skills demand by the provision of highly trained engineering leaders, expert in a broad range of wind and marine energy technologies and engineering. Most of the CDT graduates will be expected to take up posts in the growing commercial wind and marine energy sectors, and quickly rise to positions of leadership and influence. Some graduates will remain in the higher-education sector and develop academic careers providing much needed increased capacity and capability resulting in a positive impact through an expanded research-base and capability to deal with the inevitable research challenges of the sector as it develops further commercially.

Students will be mentored and encouraged to take a proactive role in creating impact with their research whilst observing Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). All the Universities participating in this CDT proposal have explicit policies and resources in place to support knowledge exchange and impact and also public engagement. These support the students throughout their studies to engage in broader dialogue and deliberation and to be aware of the potential impacts and implications of their research.

Our CDT students will also engage in outreach activities and impact the wider community through the well-established Professional Engineering Training Scheme (PETS): this scheme is managed and directed by the students and provides opportunities to engage in outreach activities and to work with peers. e.g. PETS runs a schools and colleges programme wherein the students organise visits to schools and colleges to provide information about renewable energy and a basic introduction to the technology involved.

Economic Impact:
The low-carbon and renewable energy sector is estimated to increase five-fold by 2030, potentially bringing two million jobs to the UK. In particular, an ambitious Sector Deal for industry proposed by Government as part of its Clean Growth Strategy could see a total installed capacity of 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 with the potential to create at least 50,000 jobs across the UK. If achieved, this would be a six fold increase from the current installed capacity and would make offshore wind the largest source of domestic electricity. To ensure resilience, it is also important to retain and develop the leading UK Wave and Tidal position. With the direct and indirect value added to the UK supply and installation chain in terms of job creation, intellectual property exploitation, and sales of wind, wave and tidal technology and services, the proposed CDT will make an important contribution through knowledge enhancement and leadership development.

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