A University of Plymouth student has won a regional engineering competition for a research project which could have important implications for the future development of floating offshore wind energy.
Nilesh Jeetah, who is studying
MEng (Hons) Civil Engineering, came top in the final of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) South West Emerging Engineers Award 2023. The competition encourages and rewards the communication of civil engineering ideas, research and best practice in projects and design.
The University is at the forefront of the race to harness the power of the ocean – a global leader in offshore renewable energy (ORE) education, research, and innovation. Its state-of-the-art facilities are unrivalled across the ORE sector, and the University is home to the UK Floating Offshore Wind Turbine Test Facility (UKFOWTT).
Floating offshore wind is a key renewable energy sector for the region due to the potential for future large-scale development in the Celtic Sea, off Cornwall and Wales. A report by ORE Catapult estimates the floating wind industry could support 3,200 jobs in the South West and beyond, bring £682 million into the local supply chain and power hundreds of thousands of homes.
Nilesh presented a 4,000-word research paper aimed at gaining a better understanding of the scalability and upper limits of the cylindrical steel shells that make up the floating platforms for offshore wind turbines. Ultimately, his research could pave the way for improvements in cost-effectiveness and reliability for the floating offshore wind industry. He says:
“I chose to research floating offshore wind turbines due to their immense importance in achieving net zero carbon by 2050 and their potential to showcase the capabilities of civil engineers. This innovative technology has the power to revolutionise the energy landscape by providing a scalable and sustainable solution to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and combat climate change.
“I hope that my research will significantly contribute to advancing renewable energy, promoting environmental sustainability, and fostering socio-economic benefits on both local and global scales. By focusing on improving design, construction, and operation aspects, I aim to enhance the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and environmental impact of floating offshore wind turbines.
“Ultimately, my goal is to shape a better future for society by driving the widespread adoption of clean and sustainable energy sources. Through my research in this field, I am dedicated to making a lasting impact on the progression of renewable energy and the well-being of our planet.”
A judging panel of academics and civil engineers awarded the first prize of £250 to Nilesh in recognition of the high standard of his research paper and engaging presentation.
Miranda Housden, Regional Director, ICE South West, says:
“Nilesh deserves to win the gold award for both the standard and vision of his research project. Not only has he demonstrated his knowledge and skill by presenting a well-written and researched paper, but he’s also showing how civil engineers are contributing to a sustainable future for the region.
“We will need many more talented engineers, like Nilesh, to help the South West decarbonise its energy infrastructure between now and 2050.”
Nilesh will now represent the South West in the international final of the ICE Emerging Engineers Award in October this year, where he could win £1,500 and see his research included in a top publication.