Research partnership to pioneer floating offshore wind technology

The National Decommissioning Centre (NDC) and ORE Catapult have formed a partnership to develop floating offshore wind technology.

Each of the three projects led by the NDC and ORE Catapult focuses on a different aspect of offshore wind development

The partnership primarily comprises of three PhD projects, each concentrating on a different aspect of offshore wind development, including the simulation of floating offshore wind turbine (FOWT) technology, design optimisation of these systems, and environmental concerns.

The three projects consist of:

  • Simulations of floating offshore wind marine operations – the NDC’s £1.6m immersive simulation suite will be utilised to trial virtual marine operations that are related to the installation and maintenance of FOWT systems in a risk-free environment;
  • Multi-objective design optimisation of floating offshore wind systems – the intention is to develop a numerical tool to improve the design of combined floating platforms and mooring and dynamic cable systems, allowing users to quickly identify the best solutions based on project circumstance and cost; and
  • Study of environmental interactions of floating offshore wind technology – in this project, research will focus on investigating how key environmental stakeholders, advisory bodies and research organisations can work collaboratively to identify gaps in their knowledge of how offshore wind farms interact with the marine environment and aid them to better identify solutions.

The projects – each valued at approximately £84,000 – are being coordinated at the NDC in Newburgh by Dr Marcin Kapitaniak and Professor Richard Neilson from the University of Aberdeen. ORE Catapult, the NDC, and the University of Aberdeen’s School of Engineering have co-funded the three projects.

There is an imminent requirement for technical development in the field of floating wind

Dr Kapitaniak said: “We are delighted to be a part of this collaborative research project partnership between the NDC and ORE Catapult, which addresses a need for delivering innovation, impact, and technical development in the field of floating offshore wind technology, which is vital for achieving net zero and energy transition goals.

“Each project will run for a period of three and a half years, and the results will inform approaches to offshore wind development and maintenance that have the potential to bring real improvements to current processes as well as cost savings to industry.”

Professor Neilson, NDC Director, added: “The collaboration between the partners was initiated when the NDC received support from EPSRC’s Supergen ORE Hub for a project aimed at the development of cost-effective methods of installation of floating wind farm anchors, which was co-funded by ORE Catapult and Aubin Group.

“This opened discussions about utilising the NDC’s unique and state-of-the-art simulations suite, which as well as being able to undertake detailed marine technology and operational simulations, can also conduct complex data modelling and visualisation.

“I am delighted that these discussions have come to fruition, and we look forward to working with colleagues in the ORE Catapult and our PhD students as part of this exciting initiative.”

Professor Ekaterina Pavlovskaia, Head of the School of Engineering said: “I am pleased that the School of Engineering is able to support this partnership which will help expand the number of our PhD students working on floating offshore wind projects, developing the skillsets required to make real and lasting contributions to the energy sector.”

The National Floating Offshore Wind Innovation Centre: To accelerate the commercialisation of offshore wind

Andrew Macdonald, Director of Offshore Wind Development and Operations at ORE Catapult, said: “We welcome this innovative collaboration between ORE Catapult, the NDC and the School of Engineering that will support technology development of floating offshore wind.

“At ORE Catapult we have developed the National Floating Offshore Wind Innovation Centre in Aberdeen to accelerate the commercialisation of floating offshore wind technology. These PhD projects will look at the design, installation, and maintenance of floating offshore wind systems, and how they interact with the marine environment, and this will further drive economic growth and our net zero future.”

Roger Esson, Head of Industry and Partner Network at Net Zero Technology Centre, said: “Our strategic partnership with the University of Aberdeen in delivering the NDC is enabling the delivery of crucial industry-led, research partnerships. Through innovative collaboration, these projects will help accelerate the development and deployment of offshore floating wind, increase efficiency, and ensure that floating offshore wind is a cost-effective solution in the energy transition.

“The marine simulation suite is a fundamental element providing an environment to virtually prototype new technology and de-risk the entire lifecycle of floating offshore wind and other energy infrastructure in the marine environment.”

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