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University in £7.6 million partnership to develop wind power technology for the future

A collaboration, including the University of Hull, has won a £7.6m funding to improve the country’s offshore wind power technologies, it has been announced.  

Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, made the announcement as part of a multi-million pound investment into research partnerships to strengthen links between the UK’s research base, industry and business partners. 

Led by the University of Sheffield, along with partner universities Hull and Durham and business partners Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and DONG Energy, the five-year programme will address research challenges and will help to reduce the cost of electricity from offshore wind.  

It also aims to lay the foundation for the next generation of wind turbines and farms at a significantly higher level of power generation, helping to meet clean energy challenges. 

Engineering experts from Hull will look at the performance management of turbines to better predict their lifespan, as well as using bone modelling research to design sections of blades to make them lighter and stronger. 

University of Hull experts will also look at fault detection methods to help plan maintenance operations.  

The bid for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funding was developed by Aura, a collaboration led by the University of Hull, including the Universities of Sheffield and Durham, Siemens Gamesa and Dong Energy.  

Based in the UK’s Energy Estuary, Aura combines academic expertise with industry know-how in the UK’s energy estuary region. Combining 15 years of University of Hull research with practical realities experienced in industry, Aura brings together multi-disciplinary excellence, knowledge and innovation for the offshore wind industry, to ensure the UK retains its position as a world-leader in offshore wind.  

Through this collaboration, we are sharing significant industry resources to advance knowledge in this rapidly growing industry. Jim Gilbert, Aura Research, Development & Innovation Lead, University of Hull

Jim Gilbert, Aura Research, Development & Innovation Lead at the University of Hull, said:

"Through this collaboration, we are sharing significant industry resources to advance knowledge in this rapidly growing industry. We are also cementing our relationship with the Universities of Sheffield and Durham, as well as Siemens Gamesa and DONG Energy, with the common goal of identifying and breaking down technical, operational and economic barriers to reducing the cost of offshore wind energy. 

"Research, development and innovation such as this will not only help the industry to drive down its costs but further establish the UK’s position as a world leader in the offshore wind sector, supporting the aims of the Government’s Industrial Strategy."  

The project is part of Prosperity Partnerships announced by Mr Johnson. The partnerships see 10 universities lead 11 projects under the scheme. These will receive in total £31 million of government funding from EPSRC and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) - matched by a further £36 million from partner organisations in cash or in-kind contributions, plus £11 million from universities’ funds, totalling £78 million in all.   

This project has received £3.8m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and £2.5m from Siemens and DONG, with the rest being made up by the three universities. 

DONG Energy is a global leader in developing and building offshore wind farms and is investing heavily in constructing and developing wind farms in the Humber region.  

In December Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy opened a new £310m offshore wind turbine blade factory in Hull, which marked a milestone for the industry and coincided with increased investment in operations and maintenance activities to service the increasing capacity of offshore wind farms. 

A report commissioned by the University of Hull last month suggested offshore wind jobs could reach 21,000 by 2032.  

The bulk of employment is expected to be along the East coast of England, with a concentration of jobs in the Humber region. Read report here 

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