Dr Lauren Ansell,  Lecturer in Mathematical Sciences at the University of Plymouth
A University of Plymouth lecturer is in the running for a national award recognising her work to understand some of the potential impacts of the clean maritime revolution.
Dr Lauren Ansell has been shortlisted in the Mathematical Sciences category of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee’s STEM for BRITAIN 2023 Awards. She will be presenting a poster, alongside other nominees from across the country, at an event attended by MPs, peers and other invited guests, in London on Monday 6 March.
Dr Ansell’s poster will showcase her research predicting the energy demand for electric vessels in the port of Plymouth.It was carried out as part of the Marine e-Charging Living Lab (MeLL) initiative, which created the UK’s first e-marine hub of shore-side charging facilities for electric maritime vessels.
For the project, Dr Ansell worked with partners including Aqua superPower, Princess Yachts and Plymouth City Council to understand the demands that could be placed on the energy supply network from the predicted growth in Plymouth’s clean maritime sector.
This included examining the type of boats operating in and out of Plymouth, the times of their arrivals and departures, and the size of their engines and how long it might take to recharge them.
Dr Ansell, Lecturer in Mathematical Sciences in the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, said:
“As the clean maritime sector grows, more vessels will be adapted to electric power. We needed to know what demands that could place on the supply network, for example, will there be particular times of the day where energy use increases? We also then looked at how we ensure the power supply meets the demand, particularly given ports are often quite a distance from electricity substations. These are questions that haven’t really been considered before but will need to be addressed as the industry grows.”
Marine e-charging point
One of the e-charging points installed as part of the Marine e-Charging Living Lab initiative
Launched in Plymouth in April 2022, the MeLL project – funded by the Department for Transport and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK – responds directly to the UK government’s Clean Maritime Plan.
Through her research, Dr Ansell found that on average there had been over 4,000 port calls per year to Plymouth in the period from 2010 to 2021, and 82 different types of vessels using the port. Fishing vessels were the most common visitors, followed by sailing ships, yachts, tugs and pilot tenders.
The details of vessel movements enabled her to map particular trends in arrivals with the majority of fishing vessels, for example, returning to port between 3pm and 7pm each day.
She was then able to predict that the peak charging time for vessels involved in the fishing industry would be between 5pm and 9pm each day.
She presented her findings to local authority and industry representatives at the project launch in 2022, and is now adapting that presentation for the STEM for Britain event.
Partners and stakeholders at the official launch of Plymouth's new Marine e-Charging Living Lab (Credit - University of Plymouth)
Partners and stakeholders at the official launch of Plymouth's new Marine e-Charging Living Lab
Dr Ansell added:
“As an early career researcher, it is amazing to have been shortlisted for this award, and it will be really interesting to see how people respond to my work. It is also really exciting for me to be at the forefront of such an emerging field, and to show how data analysis and mathematical modelling can play a key role in its development.”
Dr Ansell graduated with a First from the BSc (Hons) Mathematics course in 2009, and completed her PhD in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics in 2019.
She now teaches Applied Statistics to both undergraduates and postgraduates, and lectures on the MATH501 module, which gives Masters-level students on a range of programmes – including MSc Autonomous Systems, MSc Offshore Renewable Energy Engineering, MSc Health Data Science and Statistics, and MSc Data Science and Environmental Intelligence – an understanding of the modelling and analytics techniques that can be used for data science.

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Clean maritime research and innovation

The University of Plymouth is among the UK’s leading proponents of clean maritime research and innovation.

It is conducting research in fields as varied as maritime cyber and marine autonomy, advanced engineering and the arts, biological and environmental science and Big Data.

Through engagement with business and the wider scientific community, it is pioneering new ways of transforming this research into practical solutions to challenges being faced across the marine and maritime sectors.

It is also harnessing the capability of new and existing technology within this sphere, including looking into the development and application of autonomous marine systems to advance our understanding of the ocean.

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The University is continuing to forge new areas of clean maritime research and drive debate around how they can be applied effectively and collaboratively