EPSRC and NERC Centre for Doctoral Training in Offshore Renewable Energy (IDCORE)

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

Abstract

The need for a network of doctoral engineers with interdisciplinary skills:

The UK leads the world in research, innovation, development, demonstration & deployment in wave and tidal technologies. It has 35% & 50% of European wave and tidal current energy potential respectively, and 13% of the shallow-water offshore wind potential. Existing offshore wind technologies could be used to meet 15% of UK electricity demand, with significantly greater potential available in deeper waters for new innovative technologies. The 2017 Digest of UK Energy Statistics shows that wind energy capacity is 16GW (with 5.3GW offshore). The UK has a greater installed capacity of tidal current technologies and has demonstrated a greater number of wave technologies than the rest of the world put together. UK and European offshore wind capacity is expected to increase, respectively by 1 and 2.5 GW/year until 2030. Bloomberg New Energy Finance have projected 115GW of global installed offshore energy capacity by 2030. Cambridge Econometrics have identified that to drive even just this UK development, by 2032, offshore wind would alone need to grow human capacity in the sector to around 60,000 FTE jobs in the UK, with 14,000 directly employed in managerial and professional engineering and scientific roles.

The challenges to define and develop the necessary technologies and know-how for the ORE sector are defined by the interaction and inter-dependence of: impact on the natural environment; its energy resources; the emergence of new innovative technologies; manufacture, deployment, operation and maintenance at scale; micro- and macro-economic appraisal; regulation & policy; social & environmental acceptance. Prior experience in IDCORE and Supergen UKCMER, recent roadmaps, and advice from industrial partners show that we must train a connected network of scientists and engineers with deep use-inspired research & innovation skills in their individual domains, and an appreciation of the challenges and state of the art solutions across the breadth of the sector.

The approach that will be taken:

We propose to establish a new centre, building on the strengths of the successful Industrial Doctoral Centre for Offshore Renewable Energy and Supergen UKCMER. To exploit synergy, opportunities for scale & additional impact, this proposal is made in partnership by the Universities of Edinburgh, Exeter and Strathclyde and the Scottish Association for Marine Sceince. Together we will deliver and operate a fully integrated CDT forming a best-with-best partnership to create future leaders for the British energy systems and to train them to fully integrate offshore renewables into the decarbonised energy systems of the future. Specifically, the new IDCORE CDT will
* Graduate 50 new postgraduate students, supervised by a cohort of over 80 academic staff in the UK.
* Use world-class UKRI funded facilities to provide cutting-edge training in engineering, science & inter-disciplinary areas;
* Deliver impact from excellent research in integrated cross-disciplinary themes from the ocean to the end user;
* Train research students throughout the full life cycle of research, spanning theory to practice, including engineering, physical, data & natural science, economics, management, leadership & social-science skills.

Overview of the research areas of the centre:

Experience, assisted by our industrial partners, has defined the need for research, training and innovation in the following areas: natural resource; environmental impact assessment (and mitigation); development of offshore energy technologies; new materials and science for components, sub-systems and devices in the offshore environment; data science; autonomous inspection and condition monitoring; remote and local operation and maintenance; energy conversion, conditioning, storage and delivery; energy economics, policy and regulation. IDCORE provides this.

Planned Impact

The primary impact will be achieved by industrially-sponsored student research projects. These will be designed to deliver immediate benefits to project sponsors, and the wider sector, forming a critical mass in capacity, knowledge and innovation opportunities.

The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) sector has seen rapid growth over recent years, with asset installations and operations increasing significantly. The UK is a global leader in the research, development and engineering in ORE, delivering significant benefits for UK plc. Current UK offshore wind installed capacity is in excess of 5GW and is forecasted to grow to around 10GW by 2020, with expected capacity increases of 1GW/year until 2030. Across Europe, installations (excluding the UK) exceed 6GW capacity, with a further 9GW envisaged before 2020 and a growth rate of 2.5 GW/year up to 2030. Whilst offshore wind is at an industrial stage where it creates new jobs right now, tidal and wave energy hold the potential to further mature to provide the benefits from commercial deployments by 2040. ORE generation complements the low carbon energy portfolio, reducing CO2 emissions.

The sector will drive substantial economic benefit to the UK, provided development, research and training can keep up with the sector. Economic analysis conducted for the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland shows that 3FTE construction job years are created per MW of offshore wind deployed, and a further 0.6FTE are created through ongoing operations and maintenance, creating thousands of jobs per GW/year. Analysis by the ORE Catapult found that current offshore wind projects have an average 32% UK content. By 2040 the UK is to increase this content in areas of strength such as blade and tower manufacture, cable supply and O&M, by providing the needed investment, development and skills training. Supply chain analysis projects that 65% UK content could be possible by 2030, with further export opportunities, estimated to be worth £9.2n per year by 2030. The current GVA to the UK per GW installed (at 32% UK content) is £1.8bn and estimates suggest a possible increase to £2.9bn by 2030. Future UK employment in the ORE sector has been modelled by Cambridge Econometrics. By 2032 the sector could support 58,000 FTE jobs in the UK, with 21,000 FTE jobs direct employment (up from 10,000 FTEs jobs currently) and another 37,000 FTE additional indirect jobs.

IDCORE will contribute to and improve ORE supply chain development, by providing dedicated R&D support to SMEs and developers, building industry and investor confidence and working with investors and asset owners. The program will result in new technical solutions, enhanced O&M service offerings and enhanced engineering design and analysis tools for the benefit of the industry partners and the wider sector.

The role of government strategy and policy development will be a crucial element of the training provided to IDCORE students. Used within their projects, and in interactions with sponsors, this knowledge will improve the outcomes for their work making it relevant to latest policy developments. It will also drive the development of robust evidence for government, improving policy making. Such engagement is supported by links created between the partners and the Scottish and UK Governments and organisations like Wave Energy Scotland and the International Energy Agency.

The development and demonstration of an effective EngD programme is important for the broader academic community, providing a model for engagement with industry and other stakeholders which is as effective in its impact on SMEs as it is with larger organisations.

The consortium has strong international links across Europe and in Chile, China, India, Japan, Mexico, and the USA. Promoting EngD programmes for renewable energy has the potential to lead to the formation of new sister programmes - expanding opportunities for staff and student exchange.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S023933/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
2274786 Studentship EP/S023933/1 01/09/2019 31/08/2023 Alyona Naberezhnykh
2274581 Studentship EP/S023933/1 01/09/2019 31/08/2023 Mujahid Elobeid
2274709 Studentship EP/S023933/1 01/09/2019 31/08/2023 Harriet Fox
2274705 Studentship EP/S023933/1 01/09/2019 31/08/2023 Macauley Versey
2274701 Studentship EP/S023933/1 01/09/2019 31/08/2023 Nadezda Avanessova
2275010 Studentship EP/S023933/1 01/09/2019 31/08/2023 Esperanza Susana Torres Gutierrez
2274708 Studentship EP/S023933/1 01/09/2019 31/08/2023 Ben Moverley Smith
2274617 Studentship EP/S023933/1 01/09/2019 31/08/2023 Nicholas Kell
2274713 Studentship EP/S023933/1 01/09/2019 31/08/2023 Elie Jean Ronge
2274931 Studentship EP/S023933/1 01/09/2019 31/08/2023 Lubica Slabon
2274922 Studentship EP/S023933/1 01/09/2019 31/08/2023 Luke Evans