Professor Judith Petts CBE and Andrew Jamieson sign the COSS partnership (Credit - University of Plymouth)

Two of the UK’s leading organisations spearheading the offshore renewable energy revolution are partnering to increase industry access to facilities and expertise that will fast-forward the development and deployment of new offshore renewables products and services.

The University of Plymouth and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult have agreed to establish a new Collaborative Offshore Renewable Energy Subsea Systems (COSS) research accelerator.

Hosted within the University’s Marine Building, the COSS will enhance the UK’s position as a global leader in offshore renewables by tackling some of the key engineering challenges to accelerating the roll-out of new technologies.

This supports the UK Government’s expanded ambition to deploy up to 50GW of offshore wind by 2030 (with up to 5GW provided by floating offshore wind) – more than enough to power every home in the UK – and its commitment to achieve Net Zero by 2050.

The new facility will be focused around the hydrodynamics of floating offshore structures, offshore engineering and control systems. It will comprise a suite of advanced engineering facilities for use by academic researchers, industry and businesses working in collaboration with the University and ORE Catapult staff.

This will include a technology development laboratory, test equipment and a virtual reality suite that can be used to study the hydrodynamic and environmental effects across anchors, foundations, moorings and platforms to optimise designs and reduce future project risk and costs.

It will be used to test how innovative wave, tidal and floating offshore wind platforms respond to ocean conditions, and build on work to study and develop autonomous marine systems that can carry out the inspection, maintenance and repair of offshore systems.

A complimentary COSS PhD sponsorship scheme will offer industry the opportunity to develop deep technical understanding of offshore engineering challenges and resolve these through collaborative research.

The ultimate aim is to enhance the resilience of structures and reduce the cost of operations, increasing the competitiveness of offshore renewables compared with other energy sources.

These laboratory facilities will be augmented by access to test rigs located across the South West, the real seas trials site Smart Sound Plymouth, and include access to national test facilities operated by ORE Catapult across the UK.

Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Plymouth, said:
“Through recent announcements, the government has made it clear that offshore renewables should be one of the main providers of UK energy in the coming decades. For that to become a reality, there are a number of engineering challenges that need to be overcome to make the technology fully effective in terms of performance and cost.
"This collaboration will build on the common research and innovation interests that exist between the University and the ORE Catapult to help meet those challenges.”
Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Plymouth, with the ORE Catapult’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Jamieson
Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Plymouth, with the ORE Catapult’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Jamieson
Research Festival 2021. Coast lab. Offshore renewable energy day event
ORE Catapult’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Jamieson, added:
“Offshore renewable energy will be the backbone of the UK’s future energy supply as evidenced by the new deployment targets set by the UK Government. Whilst there are undoubtedly challenges to accelerating deployment, there are also huge opportunities for UK innovation to come to the fore and drive the development of a strong, robust UK supply chain. COSS enables ORE Catapult to further strengthen its collaborative partnership with the University of Plymouth and, working together with industry, we’ll be able to accelerate technology research and innovation. Ultimately, this will create UK economic benefit, high-value, sustainable jobs and greater energy security from a stronger and more sustainable domestic energy supply, whilst also helping to achieve Net Zero.”

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At the forefront of the UK’s offshore renewables revolution

The COSS further cements the University’s position as a UK leader in offshore renewable energy research and innovation. It also expands on a number of existing collaborations involving the University and the ORE Catapult.
These include the TIGER (Tidal Stream Industry Energiser) project, which will see turbines submerged offshore to harness the energy of tidal currents, and the Cornwall FLOW Accelerator initiative, which is supporting Cornwall’s ambitions to take a leading role in the global floating offshore wind sector.
It will also complement existing facilities at the University, including the UK Floating Offshore Wind Turbine Test centre and a state-of-the-art simulator that will be used to simulate, test and optimise marine operations throughout the lifecycle of FLOW installations.
Professor Deborah Greaves OBE FREng, Professor of Ocean Engineering at the University of Plymouth and Director of the national Supergen ORE Hub, said:
“Our work on offshore renewable energy spans everything from influencing government policy to inspiring future generations of innovative engineers. We have established the potential for wave, tidal and floating offshore technologies to make a real contribution to the UK’s net-zero agenda. For several years, we have also worked with industry to pioneer new technologies and to provide world-class facilities where they can be tested. As the need for clean energy becomes ever more pressing, the University is perfectly placed to use its research and industry links to transform that innovation into implementation.”
Sunset Offshore Wind Turbine in a Wind farm under construction of England coast, UK. Image courtesy of Getty Images.  

Offshore renewable energy

The University is conducting research into all aspects of offshore wave, wind and tidal energy and working to inspire and influence everyone from academics and industry to global policy makers.