A University of Plymouth academic has been appointed to lead a new consortium drawing together the UK’s expertise in offshore renewable energy.
Professor Deborah Greaves, Head of the School of Engineering and Director of the COAST (Coastal, Ocean and Sediment Transport) Laboratory, has been selected to head up Supergen ORE Hub, a programme supported by both government and industry.
It aims to pull together for mutual benefit three related areas – wave, tidal and offshore wind – with leading figures in those fields sharing skills and expertise to address the many synergies and research challenges.
Ultimately, it will be a £5 million four-year project, but Professor Greaves has been awarded initial funding by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to spend six months building the consortium that will drive the technology forward.
“In order to realise the potential of offshore renewable energy and maintain the UK's leading position in this field, the sector needs to address some significant challenges. The specific research challenges facing offshore wind, tidal and wave technologies are quite distinct, but by developing synergies and collaborations we can add to existing research and expertise. Therefore, a coordinated response from different actors at national and regional level is required in order to tackle these challenges successfully.”
Professor Greaves is a leading figure in the UK’s marine renewable energy research sector, having secured more than £8 million in research funding and for this project is working with environment expert Dr Annie Linley, and Ross Wigg, Head of Renewables for Lloyds Register.
She recently led the EU-funded project SOWFIA (Streamlining of Ocean Wave Farm Impacts Assessment) project, is leading six-partner Collaborative Computational Project on Wave Structure Interaction (CCP-WSI), and is the lead Plymouth academic on other national and international research projects funded by EU, EPSRC and innovateuk.
Speaking about her initial work on the Supergen ORE Hub consortium, she added:
“My aim for this six-month project is to develop a shared vision for the ORE community and agreement on the strategy and design of the SuperGen ORE Hub to achieve that vision. It will be important that the project reflects the differences and synergies between the different sectors and I believe the collaborative approach will bring added benefits by sharing best practice and exploiting synergy. I will work to build the consortium and bring in expertise to cover all relevant areas so that ORE research has a secure future and continues to develop new research leaders.”
The Supergen programme was set up in 2001 to deliver sustained and coordinated research on Sustainable PowER GENeration and supply, focusing on several key research areas. These included bioenergy, energy networks, energy storage, fuel cells, hydrogen and other vectors, marine, wave and tidal; solar technology; and wind power.
It was reviewed over the summer of 2016 by a panel of industry and academic experts, which highlighted the scale of the programme – that now represents one of the UK governments largest single investments in fundamental research on low-carbon energy generation and sustainable distribution – and also recognised that the programme has had high academic, socio-economic, environmental and international impact.