Our Energy Transition: The Supergen Offshore Renewable Energy Hub

Along with onshore wind, bioenergy and solar, offshore wind, wave and tidal stream technologies are a major part of the UK’s diverse energy mix, and a key enabler in achieving our net zero target:

  • The installed capacity of offshore wind has grown from 1 gigawatt in 2010, to over 10 gigawatts in 2020 – powering the equivalent of 4.5 million homes a year.
  • By 2026 offshore wind is likely to provide almost 30 percent of the total UK electricity demand.
  • The UK holds 35 percent of Europe’s wave energy resource and 50 percent of its tidal energy resource, with over 1 gigawatt of leased tidal stream sites and over 40 gigawatt hours of marine energy generated.
  • Wave and tidal energy technologies have the potential to provide at least 20 percent of the UK’s annual electricity demand.

It’s clear that energy generation from offshore renewable technologies has huge potential, but there needs to be greater collaboration between academia, industry, and government in order to continue to reduce costs and accelerate the development of new technologies, whilst ensuring that any impact to the ocean environment and ecology is considered and minimised.

The Supergen Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Hub brings together these different stakeholders to ensure that the leading ORE research we produce and support through our Flexible Funding scheme is shared with the government to inform and influence policy, and practitioners to provide industry guidance.

We have invested over £3 million into essential research to advance the sector through knowledge exchange. This includes areas of research including: exploring new sustainable and recyclable materials for tidal and wind turbine blades; developing new autonomous technologies as a safe, low-cost method of carrying out inspections of offshore wind farms; considering innovative improvements that will increase reliability and performance of ORE technologies; and monitoring environmental and ecosystems aspects through measurements of underwater noise.

We have also created a diverse and supportive community that nurtures the next generation of ORE research leaders. Through our Early Career Researcher (ECRs) awards, we have invested almost £130,000 into projects led by ECRs, which support and develop their existing research or career skills.

The United Kingdom is at the forefront of the development, adoption and export of ORE technologies. Therefore, we need to continue vital research and innovation in this sector to maintain that world leading position and achieve the net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050, both combatting climate change and protecting the natural environment for future generations.

The University of Plymouth leads the Supergen ORE Hub, with Co-Directors from the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Exeter, Hull, Manchester, Oxford, Southampton, Strathclyde, and Warwick, and is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Find out more about the Supergen ORE Hub.

Accelerating towards greater returns from green energy

Pulsiv, a University of Plymouth spinout, continues at pace toward full-scale production of its solar micro-inverter, which has the potential to supply up to five per cent more energy to the grid than current market leaders. The PulsiV team are working with Bosch UK to optimise the design to further maximize the returns from the clean energy it harvests.

Dr Zaki Ahmed’s pioneering power technology can be applied to commercial solar farms through to household electrical appliances such as televisions, mobile phones and laptops. PulsiV is in discussion with a number large multinational companies about a wide range of further industrial applications. Additionally, PulsiV are working on new technology for LED lighting to reduce energy storage requirements.