wind-turbines

University and LEP play key role in Government-commissioned audit into wind energy industry

The University of Hull and the Humber LEP have played a key role in a government-commissioned science and innovation audit designed to help regional industry identify strengths and fulfil their potential.

The Offshore Renewable Energy Science and Innovation Audit (SIA) is one of eight audits which have been released.

It focussed on the wind, wave and tidal energy sectors at major ports on the rivers Humber, Mersey and Tyne, along with Scotland.

It was conducted across the north of England and Scotland, Led by the University of Newcastle, it also included the universities of Hull, Durham and Liverpool, four Local Enterprise Partnerships (Humber, Liverpool City Region, North-East and Tees Valley Combined Authority) and Scottish Enterprise as well as the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.

“University of Hull staff have developed a wide ranging knowledge base across multiple fields of expertise to help justify areas of development and allow the university to act as a trusted source of market intelligence at a wide range of external events.” Offshore Renewable Energy Science and Innovation Audit

The report recognised the world-leading status and potential of industry and academia and highlighted the ‘substantial offshore renewable energy supply chain’ which is engaged in many innovation projects, including industry-academic collaborations.

It said the vision is that Northern England and Scotland can transform from a majority importer of offshore renewable energy technology to a major UK supply base and, ultimately, an export hub for UK manufacturing and services in this sector.

In addition, it said the academic research produced in the SIA area in offshore wind, wave and tidal is world-class in terms of both quality and volume and there are a number of universities in the area with centres of excellence in, or with close ties to, the field of offshore renewables  

It noted that relevant areas of research and innovation strength at the University of Hull include:

  • Advanced Manufacturing activity aims to apply digital engineering for efficient and cost effective manufacture. It is focused on the use of novel material and manufacturing processes in the production of blades, including the development of smart surfaces and advanced coatings to minimise damage and provide ice-shedding capability.
  • Operations and Maintenance (O&M) research provides gains in the reduction of the cost of operating offshore wind farms. Specifically, this covers the physical systems for condition/structural health monitoring, the use of autonomous systems for monitoring and maintenance operations. A distinctive and increasingly significant element of this is the study of how human factors impact on technician performance and fatigue.
  • Interdisciplinary Impact Assessment considers varied interactions between offshore renewable energy systems and the environment such as the effect of foundations on seabed sediment transfer. Computer modelling and physical models are used, including the university’s total environment simulator ‘flume’ facility, which is especially well suited to OSW deployments.
  • Market Conditions is an applied area of work providing insights into market trends, needs and overall conditions. Studies may contribute evidence for investment in new offshore wind initiatives through research projects at an internal level or for collaborative partners.
"This report confirms that Aura is extremely well placed to capitalise on the opportunities presented and support sector development and UK potential to offer global leadership in this vibrant sector." Giles Davidson, Aura Lead, University of Hull

The report said: “University of Hull staff have developed a wide ranging knowledge base across multiple fields of expertise to help justify areas of development and allow the university to act as a trusted source of market intelligence at a wide range of external events.”

It also highlighted the work of Project Aura. Led by the University of Hull and supported by the Humber LEP, Aura is a collaboration with global offshore wind industry players (Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, DONG Energy), leading UK research institutions (the Universities of Sheffield and Durham), Government organisation (ORE Catapult) and skills organisations (HCF Catch).

Aura’s mission is to identify and address key technical, operational and economic barriers to drive down the cost of offshore wind energy, support the growth and development of the supply chain for the offshore wind sector and promote and sustain the UK’s status as a world leader in offshore wind.

Giles Davidson, Aura Lead at the University of Hull, said: “We are delighted to have played a key part in this audit which demonstrates the strong offshore sector we have across the Humber and the North of England in particular. Aura’s aim is to foster collaboration across the sector to build a world-leading offshore wind talent and innovation hub to support this rapidly growing industry for the Humber and the UK. This report confirms that Aura is extremely well placed to capitalise on the opportunities presented and support sector development and UK potential to offer global leadership in this vibrant sector. This audit process has been an excellent example of collaboration in the sector.”

Lord Haskins, Chair of the Humber LEP said: “This report provided another opportunity for the Humber to further establish its reputation as the UK’s ‘Energy Estuary’ and a world leader in this sector.

“With the Humber at the centre of the UK offshore wind offer we have seen much change and success in this area of industry and we are determined to build on this through the Industrial Strategy.

“Innovation will be key for this, which is why we are working closely with the University of Hull in collaboration with business, other universities and institutions to strengthen the contribution our region makes. This will help the Humber to support the future growth of the sector, which will result in further local economic benefit.”

The audits are sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Announcing the findings, Business Minister Lord Prior said: “The Science and Innovation Audits we are publishing today highlight the innovative strengths in regions across the UK and the significant growth and investment opportunities they present.

“Together with our record investment of an additional £4.7 billion for research and development to 2020/21, we are working closely with regional businesses and partners to ensure the ambitions set out in these reports are delivered to maintain our status as a science powerhouse.”

The full audit can be found here.

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