4 year PhD, including the PG Diploma Offshore Wind Energy and the Environment

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


1st year is the PG Diploma and research and Industry preparation
Years 2-4 are a PhD at one of the CDT universities

Planned Impact

The Aura CDT will produce offshore wind specialists with a multi-disciplinary perspective, and will equip them with key skills that are essential to meet the future sector challenges. They will be highly employable due to their training being embedded in real-world challenges with the potential to become future leaders. As such, they will drive the UK forward in offshore wind development and manufacturing. They will become ambassadors for cross-disciplinary thinking in renewables and mentors to their colleagues. With its strong industrial partnership, this CDT is ideally placed to produce high impact research papers, patents and spin-outs, with support from the Universities' dedicated business development teams. All of this will contribute to the continued strong growth of the offshore wind sector in the UK, creating more jobs and added value to the UK economy. Recent estimates suggest that, to meet national energy targets, developers need >4,000 offshore wind turbines, worth £120 billion, over the next decade.

Alongside the clear benefits to the economy, this CDT will sustain and enhance the UK as a hub of expertise in this rapidly increasing area. The UK has made crucial commitments to develop low carbon energy by 2050 and this will require an estimated ~£400m UK RDI spend per year by 2032. Whilst the increase in R&D is welcome, this target will be unsustainable without the right people to support the development of alternative technologies. It is estimated that 27,000 skilled jobs, including in research, will need to be generated in the OSW sector. Of these, ~2,000 are estimated to require HE Level 7-8 qualifications. This CDT will directly answer the higher-level leadership skills shortage, enabling the UK to not only meet these targets but lead the way internationally in the renewables revolution.

Industry and policy stakeholders will benefit through-
a) Providing challenges for the students to work through which will result in solutions to pressing and long-term industry challenges
b) Knowledge exchange with the students and the academics
c) New lines of investigation/ revenue/ process improvement
d) Two-way access to skills/ equipment and training
e) A skilled, challenge focused workforce
Society will benefit through-
a) Offshore wind energy that is lower cost, more secure and more environmentally friendly, with a lower impact on precious marine eco-systems.
b) Engineers with new skillsets and perspectives that can understand environmental constraints
c) Skilled workforce who are mindful of the environmental and ethical impact
d) Graduates that understand and value equality, diversity and inclusion

The research projects undertaken by the Aura CDT students will focus on projects with a strong impact. The 6 themes have all been chosen after extensive industrial consultation and engagement that accelerated after the formation of the wider Aura initiative in 2016. The collaborative approach which has shaped this proposal will be continued and enhanced through the life of the CDT to ensure that it remains aligned to industry priorities.

The interdisciplinary nature of the OSW industry means that there are a wide range of stakeholders including large and small companies who are active at different stages of OSW farm development. These industry players will help ensure the training and experience provided in the CDT addresses the range of challenges that the industry faces.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S023763/1 31/03/2019 29/09/2027
2610414 Studentship EP/S023763/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Simon Smith